Events & Media



"Plan B: Fossil Fuels Without C02"

Professor Eric McFarland
University of California, Santa Barbara
Department of Chemical Engineering

Monday, February 27, 2017
11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1414

"Pioneering clean energy research and lifelong efforts to partner with energy and chemical industries, give Dr. McFarland a unique and invaluable perspective on meeting the global demand for sustainable energy." —Alexa Fredston-Hermann, PhD student host

There is no evidence that significant reductions in the carbon dioxide emissions associated with power generation will be achieved using current commercial alternatives to abundant and low-cost fossil fuels. The massive infrastructure and equipment changes required for such a transition would require multiple decades if and when a serious commitment is made and an economical transition pathway identified. However, the stored chemical potential in fossil fuels may be economically utilized for decades in less conventional processes without producing carbon dioxide. Chemical pathways to produce hydrogen or ammonia from hydrocarbons without co-production of carbon dioxide are possible in new process configurations. Such processes may be more cost effective than other options and more readily and cost-effectively implemented. Areas where science and engineering innovation could have enormous impact on global use of fossil resources into the future will be discussed with results of recent investigations on methane conversion to hydrogen.

Eric McFarland is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He studied Nuclear Engineering and received his Ph.D. from MIT. His present research focus is in catalysis and reaction engineering related to energy conversion. McFarland has always worked closely with industry on problems related to energy and chemical production and he has held senior management positions in several companies related to his University research and is an active advisor to industry. McFarland recently returned to UCSB from a two-year position as the founding Director of the Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation and Dow Chemical Chair of Chemical Engineering at the University of Queensland, Australia.

NOTE: Bren seminars are hosted by Bren faculty members and are generally high-level talks about research in a particular area of environmental science and management.


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