U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu addressed a standing-room-only audience during his TechCon keynote speech on the topic of “Unleashing Innovation to Solve Energy and Climate Challenges.” As the lead U.S. official on energy, Chu is charged with addressing the global climate crisis, helping the nation invest in clean energy and reducing its dependence on foreign oil.
“We need to diversify our source of energy and increase efficiency,” said Chu. “If oil continues to define the cost of transportation energy, we will continue to be subject to unstable and rising prices.”
Chu stressed the importance of investing in renewable technologies, such as wind and solar, which are decreasing in price and becoming more competitive with common sources such as coal and gas. He specifically mentioned photovoltaics (PV), an area in which DuPont has made significant advancements, saying the Department of Energy has a goal to make solar cost the same as natural gas.
Chu noted that science-based technological innovations have profoundly changed the world, beginning with the Wright Brothers and Henry Ford. He cited specific examples, such as using new materials like low-cost carbon composites and manufacturing methods to make airplanes 50% more efficient and refrigerators use five times less energy than in 1970.
After his address, Secretary Chu met with DuPont leaders and scientists for a discussion focused on clean technologies and renewable energy. He then toured several DuPont labs where research is focused on such areas as solar, light-weighting cars, batteries and energy storage, and biofuels. Chu had the opportunity to talk to scientists about their work and ask questions about their research and recent breakthroughs.
He spoke with CR&D Materials Science & Engineering Director Steve Freilich about thin-film PV programs and the new Solamet® metallic paste, as well as how DuPont is helping solar module makers get more energy from every square inch of a solar cell.
Chu also toured the biofuels lab, led by Industrial Biosciences Global Biofuels Business Director Jan Koninckx, and learned how DuPont is working in both cellulosic ethanol and biobutanol to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Chu wrapped up his day by saying that we have the opportunity to create a second Industrial Revolution that will give us clean energy and a push to a sustainable world.
“We can get there through discovery, invention and innovation, which is important for our prosperity and posterity,” said Chu.