“The Critical Role of Materials in Global Decarbonization”
McFarland Lecture - William Woodford, Ph.D. Co-Founder and CTO, Form Energy
Global climate change is transforming the planet and the impacts are increasingly felt. Stopping these impacts requires collective action to develop, scale, and deploy an array of new technologies to dramatically reduce net carbon emissions. This requires a fundamental transformation of the global economy. Materials-enabled innovations in photovoltaics, batteries, power electronics, and others are taking off and enabling rapid decarbonization of electricity generation and transportation sectors. However, these innovations are not enough — when fully scaled, these improvements will represent only about half of the needed change. Deep decarbonization presents a massive need (and opportunity!) to fundamentally reinvent materials processing, from mining and refining to final processing, across a wide range of low- and high-tech applications. This will require long-term and committed effort to revisit the fundamentals of our field and to rapidly translate and scale the resulting technologies. As specific examples, the processes used for steelmaking, aluminum smelting, and concrete production all must be fundamentally reinvented, starting from basic research and development. This talk will highlight some of the key challenges, early successes and white spaces for new opportunities around impact-driven technology development geared at the reinvention of our global materials value chain.
William Woodford is co-founder and CTO of Form Energy, a startup company developing long-duration grid-scale energy storage systems. Prior to Form Energy, Dr. Woodford was Director of Advanced R&D at 24M Technologies, where his team focused on low-cost automotive and grid storage Li-ion development, as well as high-energy density Li-metal based cell technologies. In 2018, he was recognized with Technology Review's TR35 award, as one of the top 35 innovators under the age of 35. Dr. Woodford earned his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his BS from the Pennsylvania State University, both in Materials Science and Engineering.