Energy Solutions for a Fossil Fuel Deprived Future

Rakesh Agrawal

School of Chemical Engineering
Purdue University

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Refreshments at 3:45 p.m.
Lecture at 4:00 p.m.
Room 1610 Engineering Hall

The recent rise in oil prices again reminds us that the world's supply of fossil fuels is finite. Roughly 85% of current energy use is being met by fossil fuels. Furthermore, rapid increase in energy demand by the developing nations is leading to ever increasing use of coal, oil and natural gas. Therefore, alternate primary energy sources are being identified and developed to permit the continued functioning of the future world economy.

The presentation will first paint the current landscape of these alternative, sustainable, primary energy sources: solar, wind, nuclear, and biomass. It will also review the particular challenges and solutions needed for various end uses of energy.

In a future fossil-fuel-deprived world, it will be particularly challenging to satisfy the need of the transportation sector due to its requirement of high energy density fuel and associated ease of handling. Novel solutions to meet this challenge and sustain the current transportation sector will be presented. These solutions provide a feasible framework for a sustainable solar economy. They also provide exciting possibilities for chemical engineers to apply their expertise and contribute to the grand challenge of energy.

Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor, School of Chemical Engineering, Purdue University. Until 2004, he was Air Products Fellow at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.

A major thrust of his research is related to energy issues and includes novel processes for fabrication of low-cost solar cells, biomass and coal-to-liquid fuel conversion, and energy systems analysis. His research further includes synthesis of muticomponent separation configurations including distillation, membrane and adsorption based processes, basic and applied research in gas separations, process development, gas liquefaction processes and cryogenics. He has authored 67 technical papers and holds 116 U.S. and more than 500 foreign patents. These patents are used in over one hundred chemical plants with total capital expenditure in multibillion dollars.

He is currently serving on the Renewables to Electricity subpanel of the National Academies study on America's Energy Future. Dr. Agrawal is a member of the AIChE's Board of Directors and also its Energy Commission. He is also a member of the NRC Board on Energy and Environmental Systems (BEES). He has received several awards, including J & E Hall Gold Medal from the Institute of Refrigeration (UK), Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement from the University of Delaware, Industrial Research Institute (IRI) Achievement Award, and from AIChE: the Gerhold, Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology, Institute Lecture, Chemical Engineering Practice, and Fuels and Petrochemicals Division awards. He is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering.

Dr. Agrawal received a B. Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology, in Kanpur, India, an M.Ch.E. from the University of Delaware, and an Sc.D. in chemical engineering from MIT.