Energy, Emissions and Climate Change: Challenges and Materials Innovation for Zero-Carbon Electric Power Generation


Mavi Hall

Energy, Emissions and Climate Change: Challenges and Materials Innovation for Zero-Carbon Electric Power Generation

Monday, 19 September, 2022 - 14:30

Mavi Hall

Energy, Emissions and Climate Change: Challenges and Materials Innovation for Zero-Carbon Electric Power Generation

Turgut M. Gür

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Stanford University

Stanford, California 94305, USA


Transition pathways into a sustainable energy economy pose serious challenges with difficult choices, as energy policies also impact the environment, food and water production, and even mass migrations. Our dependence on fossil fuels results in anthropogenic emissions of nearly 37 GtCO2/yr and is strongly linked to climate change and global warming. This poses an existential and imminent threat to our carbon-constraint planet and the welfare of future generations.

Transforming major segments of the global energy economy to clean and sustainable energy sources requires a multi-prong strategy as well as technological diversity to assure energy security while tackling climate change and global warming. Critical components of the strategy demand sharp increase in renewable energy capacity, rapid build-up of scalable energy storage technologies, phasing out air-based combustion of fossil fuels while developing oxygen-based conversion technologies, and lastly, pricing of carbon emissions. At the same time, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies must be deployed at the gigaton scale. Progress in these areas is critically dependent upon enhancing materials properties and performance. Hence, innovations in materials will be central to the collective effort in meeting our energy demands while reducing and capturing CO2 emissions.

In this talk, I will start by framing the global energy and electricity landscapes in the context of CO2 emissions, highlight the immense magnitude of global challenges, and review various technological and materials options for energy storage and CO2 capture. The talk will then focus on oxygen-based power generation with emphasis on high temperature fuel cells for efficient conversion of fossil fuels into electricity. Time permitting, I will also provide examples of how nanostructuring tools can effectively be employed to improve efficiency and performance of energy conversion and storage systems by atomic scale design of grain boundaries as well as surface and interface engineering of functional oxides.



Turgut M. Gür is an Adjunct Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University, where he recently retired after nearly four decades of a distinguished career that also included leadership for three major multi-disciplinary theme-based research centers on campus focused on advanced materials and energy conversion and storage, namely, Stanford’s DOE-EFRC Center on Nanostructuring for Efficient Energy Conversion (CNEEC), the NSF-MRSEC Center for Materials Research (CMR), and the Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials (GLAM).

Recently, he is elected the President of The Electrochemical Society (ECS), which is one of the oldest scientific societies in the US and the largest international society in its field in the world. ECS is also the scientific home to 16 Nobel laureates and serves nearly 8,000 member scientists from 80 countries across the globe. He also serves as the Chairman of the ECS Board Directors and is an inducted Fellow of The Electrochemical Society. 

Previously, he has served for ten years on the Board of Directors of the International Society for Solid State Ions (ISSI), and for more than a dozen years as an associate editor of the Journal of the American Ceramic Society. He also holds a Visiting Professor appointment from the Chinese University of Mining and Technology-Beijing (CUMTB) in China, and an "international mentor" appointment from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway.

He is a highly cited and internationally recognized leader in high temperature electrochemical energy conversion and storage technologies, materials and processes with 11 US issued patents, 165 technical publications, 150 presentations at international conferences, and more than 80 invited talks, lectures, and colloquia. He has served in technical leadership roles at several start-up companies, including clean coal conversion to electricity, chemically assisted hydrogen production, industrial wastewater remediation, and RuO2-based supercapacitors.

He holds BSc and MSc degrees in Chemical Engineering from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, and three graduate degrees including a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Stanford University.