Applied Physics Students Explore Technologies to Confront Climate Change

Dec 10 2021 | By Michael Mauel

This semester, the theme of the Applied Physics Undergraduate Seminar was “Applied Physics Confronting our Climate Future,” building on a central theme of our University and School.

During the seminar students heard from experts on climate, policy, and energy technology, and they followed the COP26 discussions in Glasgow. Paul Dabbar, former Undersecretary of Science at the Department of Energy, spoke about "Trends in Energy Technology and R&D" and the arch of discovery-to-applied research. Prof. Carlos Paz-Soldan described research progress in fusion energy development. Dr. Matt Bowen presented a lecture titled "The Uncertain Future of Nuclear Energy in the United States." Prof. Adam Sobel explained the workings of modern climate science and offered views on policy and technology solutions to climate change. Prof. Michael Mauel, host for the seminar, introduced greenhouse physics and guided discussion of the science and readiness of new energy technologies.

After our students heard from experts, they examined potential technologies that contribute towards a sustainable climate future. Based on student interest, they formed five “Technology Study Teams”, conducted research, and prepared 20 minute presentations with an accompanying narrative to inform their classmates on what they learned.

Each Team prepared and practiced their presentations, and classmates provided enthusiastic feedback with revisions to help each Team improve the clarity of their presentations. The final presentations reflected exceptional team work, careful physics calculation, and thoughtful understanding the pros and cons of new energy tech.

The five team with their topics and student members are:

Geo-Engineering Group: Aerosol Release to the Stratosphere
by Bethan Cordone, Ken Chen, Nick Holfester, Matt Stafford and Jacob Vider

Fission and Fusion as Carbon-Free Energy
by Matthew Molinelli, Samuel Morgan, Patrick Park, Anshul Singhvi, Freddie Zhu

Carbon Dioxide Air Sucking Technology
by Casy Li, Zachary Briscoe, Kallee Gallant, Qian Liu, Ethan Levitt

Alternative Utilization of Solar Energy with Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage
by Michael Liu, Scott Kim, Serena Luo, Miguel Caro, Xzavier Seto

How Dynamic Charging and New Battery Technologies Will Boost the Transition to EVs
by Shuhang Li, Yi Tao, Katharina Gallmeier, Will Kim, and Andrew Loevinger

 

Group photo of the Solar Energy Study Team (Michael Liu, Scott Kim, Serena Luo, Miguel Caro, Xzavier Seto)

Group photo of the Solar Energy Study Team (Michael Liu, Scott Kim, Serena Luo, Miguel Caro, Xzavier Seto)

Matthew Molinelli introducing fusion energy as part of the Nuclear Energy Study Team (Samuel Morgan, Patrick Park, Anshul Singhvi, Freddie Zhu)

Matthew Molinelli introducing fusion energy as part of the Nuclear Energy Study Team (Samuel Morgan, Patrick Park, Anshul Singhvi, Freddie Zhu)

Nick Holfester explaining the impact of scattering from atmospheric aerosoles as part of the Geo-Engineering Study Team (Bethan Cordone, Ken Chen, Matt Stafford and Jacob Vider)