An international authority on solar energy will give a public lecture at UNSW on Monday 26 March about the urgent need to invest in new technologies that can convert the sun's power into usable energies, such as hydrogen fuel and photovoltaic electricity.
The need to tap renewable energy sources has emerged as an urgent priority since scientists, policymakers and the community have come to accept the causal link between fossil fuel use and climate change.
Visiting scientist, Professor Helmut Tributsch will speak about a range of promising research efforts for harvesting solar energy, including solar-hydrogen generation through light-induced water splitting - a technology in which UNSW is a world leader.
"Hydrogen is all around us and is the cleanest and most efficient fuel for powering everything from vehicles to furnaces and air-conditioning, if only we can find an affordable way to harness it," says Professor Tributsch, who is a Director of the Solar-Energy Department at the Hahn-Meitner-Institut and a Professor at the Free University, Berlin.
Professor Tributsch has been based at UNSW for the past three months working with scientists at the Centre for Materials Research in Energy Conversion. The Centre is a leader in developing new and more efficient types of titanium dioxide, the light-sensitive material that acts as a catalyst to split water into hydrogen and oxygen when it is exposed to sunlight.
According to the Centre's Dr Leigh Sheppard, once the process becomes efficient enough it could be exploited to provide essentially limitless amounts of clean energy, using three resources that Australia has in abundance - sunlight, titanium and seawater.
"The process has no harmful by-products: indeed, it has the additional advantage that it works best in sea-water and the by-product would be fresh water - a resource in scarce supply in Australia.
Put simply, solar hydrogen is the cleanest, greenest energy option for a sustainable economy. The potential market for hydrogen energy is huge, equal to the combined markets for coal, natural gas and oil."
Solar hydrogen would also be compatible with coal during the transition of the economy from fossil-fuels to hydrogen fuels, he said, and could be used to extract energy more efficiently from coal.
Professor Tributsch has been an adviser to industry groups in Europe on solar energy strategies. He is a founding member of the International Network on Solar-Hydrogen. He also has been a member of the Solar Energy Panel of Experts for the U.S. Department of Energy and a founding member and served on the Board of Directors of EUROSOLAR, which pushed legislation in favour of renewable energy in Europe.
WHAT: Public lecture on solar energy by Professor Helmut Tributsch
WHERE: Leighton Hall, The Scientia, UNSW Kensington campus, High St, Kensington
WHEN: Monday 26 March, 6.30pm
MORE INFORMATION: Leigh Sheppard: 9385 6459 or Catherine Gunning: 9385 4374
Parking is available in car park off Gate 11, Botany Street.
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