Working Together for Clean Energy Solutions
Collaborative efforts around the world to combat climate change appear to be picking up speed. In response to the global agreement reached at the Paris Climate Conference in December (with nearly 200 countries signing on) small-scale efforts are mobilizing to curb worldwide carbon emissions and teams are working together for clean energy solutions.
One of these efforts is between the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at UC Berkeley and China’s Tsinghua University. The two Top universities have recently joined forces to find global warming solutions with low-cost clean energy technologies.
“If we’re going to cap carbon emissions worldwide, we have to look at big emitters, which are America, China, India – those are the big three right now – and we have to work collectively as a global community. If we can create much lower cost solar, wind, smart grid, and battery technologies (just as an example) everyone is going to benefit from that,” said Paul Wright, director of Berkeley Energy & Climate Institute, in an interview with CCTV News (see YouTube video below).
One of the technologies the Berkeley lab is working on now is a low-budget electric battery. The new battery offers an alternative to the costly lithium-ion battery used in electric vehicles that make up half the cost of the car and can catch on fire.
The team is looking at a different chemistry system that is more plentiful and low-cost (and believed to be safer than lithium-ion) based on zinc, manganese dioxide, and ionic electrolytes.
Academics from both countries hope to collaborate on policy methods to combat carbon emissions while students will be directly involved in developing efficient technologies. For example, small-scale battery alternatives for recharging cell phones and medical implants that require long-term power solutions.
Christine Greg, a mechanical engineering doctoral student at UC Berkeley, is working on lightweight high-strength materials that use less energy to produce, and therefore emit less carbon emissions in the process.
The new initiative (called the Berkeley-Tsinghua Joint Research Center on Energy and Climate Change) will enable U.S. and Chinese scientists, diplomats, and industrialists to work together on low-carbon solutions under a formal scientific agreement.
Author: Kathryn Thomsen
Founder of Hundredgivers, a nonprofit supporting and accelerating sustainability initiatives benefiting local and global communities. Kathryn is a social entrepreneur, consultant, researcher, writer and urban farmer. She collaborates with individuals, organizations, and businesses to develop climate change solutions, clean energy, and sustainability strategies and programs.