Climate talks in Paris continue onward, as world leaders share their strategies and commitments to reducing their impact on the environment. But governments around the globe aren’t the only ones taking action. Bill Gates, as well as some of the other richest people in the world, have stepped forward to form a Breakthrough Energy Coalition.
Gates and the 26 other individuals involved in the coalition announced that they will be distributing $2 billion to researchers and startups coming up with clean technology. Boston, with all of our world-renowned universities and labs, is made for this mission.
Proof: Here’s a list of innovative cleantech initiatives on campuses throughout our city that Gates and his elite friends should consider backing.
- Biorefineries – a place where organic waste is converted to energy – already exist. But researchers at BU have developed a new method to treat biomass with a dual purpose. The biomass will be used to produce renewable fuel, in addition to making other nanomaterials that can be used in an array of different sustainable ways. Basically, it’s making an existing clean energy source more productive, efficient and useful.
- Dennis Whyte is the Head of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department, as well as the Director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at MIT. He and his research team have created the blueprints to a physically and scientifically sound fusion reactor that would be small, affordable and safe. If we were to pursue developing this reactor and using fusion as an energy source, Whyte anticipates we would have ample clean, cheap energy to fuel the U.S.
- Laura Lewis, a Chemical Engineering professor at Northeastern, is leading research on developing a way to produce hydrogen fuel through water splitting. That may not mean much to people outside the energy science field, but basically, she’s getting is closer to an affordable method for chemically storing solar power.
Leslie Dewan, a graduate from MIT, is devising a way to create electricity from existing nuclear waste. Her startup, Transatomic Power, has already gained recognition in the cleantech community for its salt reactor that recycles used fuel rods for renewable energy. Transatomic raised $2.5 million in funding this past winter, but Gates could still invest in it to support the considerable work that’s still needed.
- In the realm of better battery energy, is Sanjeev Mukerjee, a professor of Physical and Materials Chemistry at Northeastern. His research is centered on energy storage and transportation, as well as alternative fuels. Right now, he has several initiatives in the works, but he’s coming up with a battery that offers are more renewable and rechargeable.
- An MIT team lead by Yet-Ming Chiang, the Kyocera Professor of Ceramics at MIT and co-founder of battery company 24M, has reinvented how to produce lithium batteries. Their manufacturing method cuts the cost of these batteries in half. But price is only one improvement. These batteries will perform better, packing more punch in terms of power. And they’ll be easier to reuse and recycle.
- Northeastern Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ali Abur, is working on making power-grids more efficient. He’s refining them, so our power systems can be operate at optimal levels – which means we’d be using energy more wisely.
Bill Gates image via Shutterstock. Leslie Dewan photo by Kyle Alspach for BostInno.