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2018 Distinguished Lectureship Series

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Co-sponsored by:

Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy Research (WISER)


Armour College of Engineering Departments of:
--Chemical and Biological Engineering
--Civil and Architectural Engineering
--Electrical and Computer Engineering
--Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering


Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST)

Wednesday, April 4 | 3:15 pm - 4:30 pm
(Light refreshments to follow lecture.)
Perlstein Hall Auditorium - Room 131
(Overflow seating will be available in Perlstein Hall - Room 108)
Illinois Institute of Technology
10 W. 33rd Street
Chicago, Illinois 60616

Presented by:

Rakesh Agrawal Purdue University

Rakesh Agrawal
Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor
Davidson School of Chemical Engineering
Purdue University

Member       U.S. National Academy of Engineering
Fellow          American Academy of Arts and Sciences
                     U.S. National Academy of Inventors
                     Indian National Academy of Engineering
Recipient    National Medal of Technology and Innovation, 2011

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For most of our existence, humans have been sustained by solar energy harnessed on the same timescale as its use. Only in the last two centuries have we become dependent on fossil resources. The ability to store energy in a dense form and use it easily led to unparalleled growth in science, technology, and commerce, and a greatly improved lifestyle, previously unimaginable for the common person. However, as the world population is expected to rise from roughly 7 billion to 10 billion, and lifestyle is expected to continue to improve in most parts of the world, the resulting rapid increase in demand for energy will place tremendous pressure on the availability of fossil resources.

Solar irradiation represents the only power source that can meet daily human needs for any foreseeable future.  Therefore, as we bid farewell to fossil resources to reembrace solar power, the question before us is: what challenges and opportunities might emerge in this solar economy and how will we adapt to them?

To understand the roles that engineers could play in this transition, we must begin by understanding the great challenges that will emerge due to the dilute nature of solar irradiation, the low efficiencies at which it is harnessed, and its intermittency in availability. When, on a daily basis, solar irradiation becomes the main supplier for food, energy, water, chemicals, and other human needs, we will also experience new and changed opportunities.

In this lecture, Dr. Agrawal will discuss the challenges related to harvesting solar power and its subsequent conversion and use, and demonstrate the need for an interdisciplinary approach to the development of successful engineering solutions. He will provide examples from his research group’s current efforts in energy and systems analysis, solution processed solar cells, biomass conversion to liquid fuels, and energy storage at GWhr levels. Dr. Agrawal will make the case that, if these emerging challenges are properly addressed, our future will be as bright and exciting in the sustainable-solar-powered world as it has been in the fossil-resource-driven world.



**Note: For those who cannot come to campus, the lecture will be recorded and subsequently posted to this website.


Metered (Credit/Debit Card Only) Guest Parking Available in Lot A4 (32nd and State Streets)

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Delores Woods,, 312.567.3041
Peg Murphy,, 312.567.6881