Materials Needs for Energy Sustainability by 2050—The Role of the Circular Materials Economy

Tuesday, November 28
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Sheraton, 2nd Floor, Grand Ballroom

Is recycling always best? Is our quest to invent new materials and more complex products at odds with achieving energy sustainability?

This special program included audience Q&A as well as real-time interactive audience polling.

Our ability to achieve an energy-efficient, low-emissions future will depend on significant materials advances over the coming decades. MRS Energy & Sustainability journal and the MRS Focus on Sustainability Subcommittee convened top experts to discuss the role of the circular economy in bringing about this vision, including related materials science challenges and socioeconomic and policy factors.

Our ability to achieve an energy-efficient, low-emissions future will depend on significant materials advances over the coming decades. This session convenes top experts to discuss the role of the circular economy in bringing about this vision, including related materials science challenges and socioeconomic and policy factors.

Discussion Highlights

  • How can we meet the growing demand for materials in a sustainable way, with fewer raw materials, less energy, and reduced environmental impact, all while maintaining economic growth?
  • Can a circular economy be implemented in a practical, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly way?
  • What opportunities does a shift to circular materials loops bring to materials research? 


Jonathan Cullen

Jonathan Cullen, University of Cambridge

Jonathan Cullen is the Lecturer in Energy, Transport and Urban Infrastructure at Cambridge University Engineering Department (CUED) and a Fellow at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. He leads the newly formed Resource Efficiency Collective, exploring options to reduce energy use and emissions through resource efficient solutions. Cullen has published 13 journal papers, presented at 15 conferences and given more than 50 invited talks. He is the co-author of Sustainable Materials: With Both Eyes Open, described by New Scientist as “clear, well-supported, and vital” and recently listed in Bill Gate’s top six reads for 2015. Cullen leads two Innovate UK projects: a KTP with Granta Design exploring resource efficiency in construction; supply chain integration for structural steel reuse. He has worked as a process engineer in the chemicals industry and acted as a facilitator for many industrial consortium workshops.


Carolyn Duran

Carolyn Duran, Intel Corporation

In her current role, Carolyn Duran is responsible for technology pathfinding and ecosystem enabling of Memory and IO interfaces and industry standards at the platform and component level.  She leads a team of computer architects and technologists with competency in memory, coherency and peripheral interconnects.  Prior to this, Duran was the Supply Chain Sustainability Director within Intel's Global Supply Management organization, in which she oversaw Intel’s supply chain chemical regulations and policy, human rights, labor and ethics practices, supplier diversity, green material selections and the company’s responsible minerals sourcing program.  Additionally, she led the lithography commodity team responsible for establishing leading-edge supply chain solutions for the chemicals and tracks used in advanced photolithography processes.

Duran has been with Intel since 1998, starting as a process engineer in research and development, then moving to supply chain management in 2007, and most recently to the Data Center Group in 2017. She received her BS degree in materials science and engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and her PhD degree in the same field from Northwestern University.

She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and three sons.

Linda Gaines

Linda Gaines, Argonne National Laboratory

Linda Gaines is a transportation systems analyst at Argonne National Laboratory. She holds a BA degree from Harvard University and a PhD degree in physics from Columbia University. Her primary interest is problem solving, applied to efficient use of resources. Her most recent work has involved studying ways to reduce petroleum use and other impacts from transport by recycling of batteries and also by reducing vehicle idling. Gaines is an editor of the new journal Sustainable Materials and Technologies.

Thomas E Graedel

Thomas E. Graedel, Yale University

Thomas E. Graedel is the Clifton R. Musser Professor of Industrial Ecology in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. His research is centered on developing and enhancing industrial ecology, the organizing framework for the quantification and transformation of the material resource aspects of the Anthropocene. His textbook, Industrial Ecology and Sustainable Engineering, co-authored with B.R. Allenby, was the first book in the field and is now in its third edition. His current interests include studies of the flows of materials within the industrial ecosystem, and of evaluating the criticality of metals. Graedel’s books (17) and papers (~380) have been cited by colleagues more than 24,000 times, putting his citation record in the upper ¼ of 1% of all active scientists. He was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 2002 for “outstanding contributions to the theory and practice of industrial ecology,” and is a member of the UNEP International Resource Panel.

M. Stan Whittingham

M. Stanley Whittingham, Binghamton University, The State University of New York

M. Stanley Whittingham is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering at Binghamton University, The State University of New York (SUNY Binghamton). He received his BA and DPhil degrees in chemistry from the University of Oxford. He has been active in Li-batteries since 1971, when he won the Young Author Award of The Electrochemical Society for his work on the solid electrolyte beta-alumina. In 1972, he discovered the role of intercalation in battery reactions, which resulted in the first commercial lithium rechargeable batteries that were built by Exxon. In 1988, Whittingham returned to academia at SUNY Binghamton to initiate a program in materials chemistry. He was awarded a JSPS Fellowship in the Physics Department of The University of Tokyo in 1993. In 2004, he received the Battery Division Research Award. He is presently Director of the NECCES EFRC based at Binghamton. In 2012, he received the Yeager Award of the International Battery Association for his lifetime contributions to battery research; in 2015, he received the Lifetime Contributions to Battery Technology Award from NAATBaaT, and in 2017, the Senior Research Award from Solid State Ionics. Whittingham is a Fellow of both The Electrochemical Society and the Materials Research Society. He is Vice-Chair, Board of Directors of the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NYBEST).


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