Gary Brudvig, the Benjamin Silliman Professor of Chemistry and professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry, has been named acting director of the new Energy Sciences Institute, which opened its doors at Yale’s West Campus earlier this month.
Brudvig is currently searching for two senior and two junior faculty members who will help tackle a vexing problem: How to generate and store energy from renewable sources such as the wind and sun?
“Solving the storage problem is absolutely critical if we are to make the most efficient use of renewable energy sources,” Brudvig said. “We plan to store that energy within chemical bonds.”
The Energy Sciences Institute will focus both on renewable energy and sequestration (long-term storage) of carbon dioxide.
The electricity grid must respond instantly to demand, which is impossible with wind or solar energy that is available only intermittently, Brudvig said. Renewable sources could be incorporated into the grid if the energy could be captured and stored.
Brudvig’s lab is already busy trying to turn solar energy into fuel. That effort will be complemented by Yale’s solar group, which includes current Yale faculty Victor Batista, Robert Crabtree, and Charles Schmuttenmaer, as well as Brudvig. This year each member of the group will engage a postdoctoral researcher in order to pursue those goals
“The research being conducted by the solar group meshes perfectly with the mission of the Energy Institute to find sustainable forms of alternative energy,” said Scott Strobel, vice president of West Campus planning and program development.
Strobel and Brudvig envision that there will eventually be 10 senior faculty heading labs of anywhere from 10 to 15 researchers in the next decade.
Research projects planned or now underway within the Energy Sciences Institute include ways to sequester carbon dioxide in rocks and the investigation of new ways to prevent energy wasted during the generation of solar power, Brudvig said.
The institute was created with a $25 million grant from financier and philanthropist Tom Steyer ’79 and his wife, Kathryn Taylor.