Solar Energy - Beyond the Hype


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Professor Prashant Kamat presents how solar energy can meet our future energy demand in his ND Thinks Big talk.

Sponsored by The Hub and CUSE, ND Thinks Big features 10 of Notre Dame’s most exciting and engaging professors sharing the impact of their work in action-packed, accessible 10 minute talks.

Visit our website,, for the latest news, publications, and research from our group.

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Solar Energy - Beyond the Hype

  1. 1. Solar Energy - Beyond the Hype Prashant V. Kamat Dept Of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Radiation Laboratory University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556-0579
  2. 2. ENERGYI. Get the Facts Right
  3. 3. Comparing Energy Units 1W 1 KW 1 MW 1 GW 4 TW 100 103 106 109 1012 W US consumes about 25% of Worlds Energy Supply!
  4. 4. The Energy Resources of Earth They are solar energy (stored and current), the tides, the earth’s heat and fission fuels. From the standpoint of human history the period of fossil fuels will be brief. M. KingAnnual TW Energyenergy demand is 15 worldwide Hubbertincreasing at a rate of 2.0% BP ENERGY OUTLOOK 2030
  5. 5.
  6. 6. Increasing demand is driving oil prices higher Light Crude Oil (CL, NYMEX) Monthly Price Chart
  7. 7. ENERGYII. Know your options
  8. 8. Global warming over the past millennium Very rapidly we have entered uncharted territory -– what some call the anthropocene climate regime. Over the 20th century, human population quadrupled and energy consumption increased sixteenfold. Near the end of the last century, we crossed a critical threshold, and global warming from the fossil fuel greenhouse became a major, and increasingly dominant, factor in climate change. Global mean surface temperature is higher today than it’s been for at least a millennium.Marty Hoffert et al. Nature 1998, 395, 881-884
  9. 9. Three possible options to meet the 10 TW- Challenge by 2050 Carbon Neutral Energy (fossil fuel in conjunction with carbon sequestration) -Need to find secure storage for 25 billion metric tons of CO2 produced annually (equal to the volume of 12500 km3 or volume of lake superior!) Nuclear Power -Requires construction of a new one-gigawatt- electric (1-GW) nuclear fission plant everyday for the next 30 years Renewable Energy Sources - hydroelectric resource 0.5 TW - from all tides & ocean currents 2 TW - geothermal integrated over all the land area 12 TW - globally extractable wind power 2-4 TW - solar energy striking the earth 120,000 TW !!!
  10. 10. Solar Energy E=hn Thermal Conversion Photoconversion Infrared Photons Energetic Visible Photons E = hc/l = 119627/l (kJ/mole)Heating Electricity Generation Photosynthesis Photovoltaics Food/Fuel
  11. 11. ENERGYIII. Be Creative and Futuristic
  12. 12. Harvesting Solar Energy Chlorophyll & Analogs Organic Dyes & Polymers Semiconductors CAPTURE ENERGY CONVERT STOREPhotosynthesis HydrogenSolar Cells Storage BatteriesPhotocatalysis Bio fuels
  13. 13. Next Generation Solar Cells Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (10-12%) Organic Solar Cells (6-8%) Quantum Dot Solar Cells (5-6%)We need economically viable transformative technologies
  14. 14. Solar Energy Research at Notre DameGoal: To develop transformative energy conversion devices using nanostructure architectures • Mimicking photosynthesis with the organized assembly of molecules • Quantum dot solar cells • Carbon nanostructures as scaffolds to anchor catalysts (energy storage) • Solar Fuels - photocatalytic production hydrogen - reduction of CO2
  15. 15. Towards the Design of Solar Paint Simple bench-top fabrication of solar paint can produce 1-2% efficient can solar cells.ACS Nano. 2012, 6, 865–872 Provisional Patent has been filed Highlighted by the scientific andM. P. Genovese, I. V. Lightcap and P. V. Kamat popular media
  16. 16. What will the future hold? Over the last twentyyears, the per-kWh price of It is Sun-Believable! photovoltaics has dropped from about $500 to < $2; think of what the next twenty years will bring.