Friday, September 23, 2022

Friday, September 23, 2022 Dennis Whyte on Recent Advances in Fusion Energy

At this meeting, Professor Dennis Whyte will describe Recent Advances in Fusion Energy including the development of new high magnetic field superconductor magnets and the launch of the SPARC fusion project outside Boston, whose goal is to demonstrate the viability of fusion this decade. The challenges to developing and deploying economic fusion will be highlighted.

Dennis G. Whyte is the Hitachi America Professor of Engineering, and director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A recognized leader in fusion research, especially in the magnetic confinement of plasmas, Whyte has paved an innovative and faster path to producing fusion energy. He leads the fusion project, SPARC — a compact, high-field, net fusion energy fusion device — in collaboration with private fusion startup Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS). The core of the SPARC project was formed over eight years ago during a design course led by Whyte to challenge assumptions in fusion. Many of the ideas underpinning the high-field approach — including the use of HTS for high-field, demountable magnets, liquid blankets, and ARC (a fusion power plant concept) — have been conceived of or significantly advanced in his design courses. Whyte has over 350 publications, is a fellow of the American Physical Society, and has served on panels for the National Academies, the United States government, and the Royal Society. In 2018 Whyte received The Fusion Power Associates (FPA) Board of Directors Leadership Award which is given annually to individuals who have shown outstanding leadership qualities in accelerating the development of fusion. Whyte earned a BS from the University of Saskatchewan, and an MS and PhD from Université du Québec.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Friday September 9th, 2022 - Jeff Hecht - Self Driving Cars

Jeff Hecht will speak on "Challenges of Self-Driving Cars, or it seemed like a good idea at the time," and it is a deliberately tongue in cheek title. The current wave of interest grew from DARPA challenges in the 2000s, and early successes stimulated interest from both startups and the rather beleaguered auto companies. The early demonstrations by Google's Waymo division and others showed that cars equipped with sensors and artificial intelligence software could drive themselves on clear, well-marked and well-maintained roads. Two visions emerged: self-driving robo-taxies by the likes of Waymo, Uber, and Ford, and high-tech electric cars for affluent suburbanites by Tesla and others. Urban environmentalists saw a path to a future of all-electric zero-emission cars. The past few years have shown it wasn't as easy as it looked. Teslas and Ubers caused fatal accidents and crashed into stopped fire trucks with lights flashing. Worries about safety grew, as did questions about what kind of environments were needed. How well could robo-cars drive in heavy rain or on icy roads? How well can they drive on busy city streets shared with cyclists, pedestrians, and delivery trucks? So far, we're learning that the best place for self-driving cars may be modern, well-marked divided highways -- but maybe not with motorcycles. And public acceptance remains unclear.

Jeff Hecht writes about science and technology for magazines including New Scientist, IEEE Spectrum, Laser Focus World, Optics & Technology News, Photonics Focus, and Nature. He also has written books including City of Light: The Story of Fiber Optics, and Lasers, Death Rays, and the Long, Strange Quest for the Ultimate Weapon. His interest in autonomous cars started with their use of laser radars for mapping the world around them, but he now follows the development of the technology and its limits.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Friday June 24th, 2022 Jacopo Buongiorno - follow up discussion

At this meeting, MIT Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering Jacopo Buongiorno returns to meet with the Forum, this time to field questions associated with Nuclear Waste Management. Professor Buongiorno has met with us on two previous occasions to speak about Nuclear Batteries on December 10th and on February 11th to field questions that evolved from our members. On this occasion the Q&A will focus on the management of nuclear waste. . For reference, please review the list of questions that had been assembled and, particularly, direct your attention to the Section IV of this file.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Friday June 10th, 2022 Yet-Ming Chiang - Batteries and Renewable Energy

MIT Professor Yet-Ming Chiang will speak about Storage to Enable a 100% Renewable Electric Grid. Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy is a key pathway to mitigation of climate change. Remarkable innovations in and scaled production of Li-ion battery technology over the past two decades could allow hour-to-hour and day-to-night variability in wind and solar generation to be largely accommodated. However, multi-day lulls in renewable generation currently challenge the electric grid’s ability to provide firm (dispatchable and always-available) power. Affordable and reliable long-duration storage is needed. In order to effectively compete on a cost basis with natural gas generation, system-level storage costs will need to be $20 per kilowatt hour or less. This talk will compare performance requirements for long- and short-duration storage applications, including where trades unacceptable at short-durations may be relaxed for long-duration batteries. Consideration of these criteria, alongside the equally important requirement of materials availability and manufacturing scalability that may need to reach installed storage capacity of ~100 TWh worldwide by midcentury, narrows the technological options. Of these, the rechargeable iron-air battery emerges as a promising option, for reasons that will be elaborated in the talk.

Yet-Ming Chiang is the Kyocera Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, where his research focuses on clean energy technologies including non-aqueous and aqueous batteries for transportation and grid-scale storage, and electrochemical production of construction materials. He has brought several laboratory discoveries to commercial implementation, including the development of high-power lithium iron phosphate batteries, a semi-solid electrode approach to low-cost lithium-ion battery manufacturing, and batteries for long-duration grid storage. He has published about 300 scientific articles and holds about 100 issued U.S. patents, of which more than 70 have been licensed to or are held by practicing companies. Chiang is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and Fellow of the Materials Research Society, the American Ceramic Society, and the National Academy of Inventors. His work in energy has been recognized by the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneer Award (2016), the Economist’s Innovation Award (Energy and Environment Category, 2012), The Electrochemical Society Battery Division’s Battery Technology Award (2012), and an R&D 100 Editor’s Choice Award (2006). Chiang has co-founded several companies based on research from his MIT laboratory including American Superconductor Corporation (1987), A123 Systems (2001), 24M Technologies (2010), Desktop Metal (2015), Form Energy (2017), and Sublime Systems (2020). He was co-director of the MIT Future of Energy Storage study (2022) and leads the newly inaugurated Center for Electrification and Decarbonization of Industry at MIT.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Friday May 27th, 2022 - Vince Dixon - Memorial Day

As we approach Memorial Day, historian Vincent Dixon leads a discussion of Personal Recollections on Memorial Day – And Memorials of Service. Memorial Day, came into being, in the aftermath of the stunning slaughter of the American Civil War. In New England, oftentimes, the last major statue, and/or memorial to the casualties of a War, are to those of the Civil War. Once more generally called The War of Rebellion, many themes, drawn from its memorials, have come to be focused, more particularly, on those who gave their lives in combat, and/or in service to The United States. This is distinct from Veterans Day, originally called Armistice Day relating to World War I, which is more generally intended to honor all who have served the nation; and to remember, and serve, those who have survived the struggles of military service, and actual combat. Over time, a range of memorials, have been authorized, and built. Interestingly, in recent decades, in reverse order, have been remembrances, and monuments, to the Vietnam Conflict, the Korean War (often called The Forgotten War); and World War II.

A small number of slides, will begin this presentation; then inviting personal recollections, by all of the participants, about their own experiences, and/or those of family members, as we explore the meanings of societal engagement, service, and respect.

Vincent Lawrence “Vince” Dixon spoke with us earlier this month about the history of vaccinations. He is a known Historian, especially focused on presentations including Colonial History; Current Events, and their Relationship to History; Church-State Relationships, and their Evolution, and Relationship with Civic Society; Parks, and Landscape History; and has taught, and tutored, as well. He has done work in curriculum development, and is a frequently published columnist, and speaker; and responds to custom requests. MASS PRESENTATIONS (a dba brand, of Dixon’s) develops a wide variety of presentations, media presentations, curriculum, and published materials, across a wide variety of audiences, and subject matter. Dixon has made presentations to the Winchester Historical Society: Religious Realities of Winchester: Houses of Worship & Communities of Faith; Schools of Winchester & Their Namesakes (including an exploration of The Lincolns of Massachusetts); Sports History of Winchester (A Virtual Event – by Zoom); and conducted Town Day Trolley Guided Tours. Interestingly, Vince was home schooled K-12, received his Bachelor of Arts Degree, cum laude, at the Harvard University Extension School and a Master of Education Degree at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. He studied with Dr. Thomas H. O’Connor (1922-2012); University Historian of Boston College; long-time Dean, of Boston Historians.
  

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Friday May 13th, 2022 Vincent Lawrence Dixon - History of Vaccination and Immunization

In this session, historian and writer Vincent Dixon discusses The History of Vaccination, and Immunization. Knowledge of viruses, and their symptoms, is important to human survival, and civilization; and the treatment, and prevention of viruses. Over the centuries, the knowledge of these aspects has grown; our present circumstances reflect significant history, and research knowledge. There are many aspects that are of interest, ranging from knowledge, and research itself; through public education, public policy, and interactions between these concepts, and individual daily lives. Many aspects include reference to research discoveries, development of vaccine manufacture, and distribution of effective vaccines, across wide geographical, and societal ranges. Boston, and its twin city neighbor, Cambridge, have had a central role in these historical developments, and the life-saving deployment of vaccination processes. In addition, world-wide vaccination programs such as those engaged in by the World Health Organization (WHO), CEPI, GAVI, COVAX, and others, are important. Public Health Education, and Public Policy, intersecting with sufficient financial resources, are vital.

Vincent Lawrence “Vince” Dixon, is a known Historian, especially focused on presentations including Colonial History; Current Events, and their Relationship to History; Church-State Relationships, and their Evolution, and Relationship with Civic Society; Parks, and Landscape History; and has taught, and tutored, as well. He has done work in curriculum development, and is a frequently published columnist, and speaker; and responds to custom requests. MASS PRESENTATIONS (a dba brand, of Dixon’s) develops a wide variety of presentations, media presentations, curriculum, and published materials, across a wide variety of audiences, and subject matter. Dixon has made presentations to the Winchester Historical Society: Religious Realities of Winchester: Houses of Worship & Communities of Faith; Schools of Winchester & Their Namesakes (including an exploration of The Lincolns of Massachusetts); Sports History of Winchester (A Virtual Event – by Zoom); and conducted Town Day Trolley Guided Tours. Interestingly, Vince was home schooled K-12, received his Bachelor of Arts Degree, cum laude, at the Harvard University Extension School and a Master of Education Degree at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. He studied with Dr. Thomas H. O’Connor, University Historian of Boston College, the long-time Dean of Boston Historians.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Friday April 22, 2022 Bob Deering - Nuclear Power: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.

Winchester resident, Bob Deering, will speak about Nuclear Power: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. Nuclear power has come a long way in the past 50 years. With the concern about climate change, nuclear power became a viable alternative to the use of fossil fuels. The same issues that nuclear power faced 50 years ago still exist today. They are location, safety, public acceptance and nuclear waste. With the proposed nuclear battery, the same concerns still exist in addition to the question of how, or if, such units would be connected to the electrical grid.

Bob is the son of electrician. He earned a degree in power distribution as well as a BS degree in Industrial Engineering and an MBA. After graduation he was employed by Stone and Webster Engineering. In the 25 years with Stone and Webster he was involved with the engineering and design of 6 nuclear power plants spending 18 months in the field office with 2 other engineers providing engineering support to the construction forces at the Surry -2 reactor nuclear project. As the demand for nuclear power faded he changed professions and became a Director of Facilities for major hospitals in the Boston area. Bob Deering is the 2017 Winchester Chamber of Commerce 2017 Citizen of the Year and known for his work with the Winchester Public School construction projects.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

April 8th, 2022 Friday - Richard Lindzen - Climate Change

In this presentation, Richard Lindzen, Professor (Emeritus) of Meteorology in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) at MIT will speak about climate change. Dick is not skeptical about greenhouse warming per se, but he considers the contribution of CO2 to greenhouse warming to be small. Also, there are other contributors to climate that are much more significant. In his view, in promoting any issue, it is important (in a propagandistic sense) to establish ones preferred narrative. In the case of “Dangerous Climate Change”, the narrative is that climate is defined by some global temperature that is, in turn, controlled by carbon dioxide via the greenhouse effect. Unfortunately, most of us accepted the narrative while pointing out the incorrectness of its details such as the assumption of positive feedbacks, the attribution of changes to CO2, and the ignoring of natural internal variability. However, the narrative itself is absurd. Nobody knows what the temperature of the earth refers to. What is actually presented is something referred to as the average temperature anomaly. The variations in this quantity are tiny compared to the scatter of the data points being averaged. At any given time, there are almost as many stations cooling as warming. The earth is characterized by numerous different climate regimes, and it would defy scientific practice to assign the behavior of these numerous climate regimes to this small residue. That said, the earth has been warmer and colder than it is now (viz the ice ages and the Eocene), and there has been no evidence of CO2 causality.

Richard Lindzen received all his degrees from Harvard. His undergraduate major was physics, and his Ph.D. was in applied mathematics, but his thesis dealt with the interaction of radiation, photochemistry and dynamics in the stratosphere. For the remainder of his career he continued to work in the atmospheric sciences. He has held professorships at the University of Chicago, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Friday, March 25, 2022

March 25, 2021 Don Sadoway -- Electrochemical Pathways Towards Sustainable Energy


Don Sadoway, John F. Elliott Professor of Materials Chemistry at MIT, on Electrochemical Pathways Towards Sustainable Energy. A sustainable energy future is axiomatically an electric future whose realization depends in large measure upon electrochemical innovations. Two examples: stationary energy storage and carbon-free steelmaking. Grid-scale electricity storage not only treats the intermittency of renewable electric power generation (wind and solar) but also confers resilience on today’s grid. For example, the liquid metal battery provides colossal power capability on demand and long service lifetime at requisite low cost. In 2019, worldwide steel production, 1.869 billion tons, generated 9% of total anthropogenic CO2 emissions. As an example of novel approaches in this sector, molten oxide electrolysis represents an environmentally sound alternative to today’s carbon-intensive thermochemical process which produces an average 1.83 tons CO2 per ton of steel. In the narratives of both of these emerging technologies, there are lessons more broadly applicable to innovation: pose the right question, engage young minds (not experts), establish a creative culture, and invent inventors.

Donald R. Sadoway is the John F. Elliott Professor of Materials Chemistry in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His B.A.Sc. in Engineering Science and Ph.D. in Chemical Metallurgy are from the University of Toronto. He joined the MIT faculty in 1978. The author of over 180 scientific papers and inventor on 35 U.S. patents, his research is directed towards batteries for grid-scale storage and for electric vehicles and towards environmentally sound metals extraction technologies. His accomplishments include the invention of the liquid metal battery for large-scale stationary storage and the invention of molten oxide electrolysis for carbon-free metals production. He is the founder of six companies, Ambri, Boston Metal, Avanti Battery, Pure Lithium, Lunar Resources, and Sadoway Labs. Online videos of his chemistry lectures hosted by MIT OpenCourseWare extend his impact on engineering education far beyond the lecture hall. Viewed more than 2,400,000 times, his TED talk is as much about inventing inventors as it is about inventing technology. In 2012 he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

October 1, 2015 Ron Latanision -- Unintended Consequences of Science and Technology

In the Fall of 2015, Judy Katz of the Jenks Center asked David Wilson to lead a discussion group on science and technology. The hope was that it might engage members of our community who have interest in things technological. David and I were faculty colleagues at MIT for many years. He asked me to give the inaugural talk. In our conversations about a topic, David pointed out that ”… I've been hearing discussions on concern that S&T is getting out of control. I wonder if something along the lines of ‘Are science and technology going too fast? Would you like to have a home robot that is smarter than you?’" On that basis we settled on Unintended Consequences of Science and Technology for my presentation on October 1, 2015. Dave served as moderator for the S&T group thereafter. Typical of the Wilson humor, David noted in an early meeting announcement that “…non-MIT people will be enthusiastically welcomed." Dave Wilson was a classic. It is fitting that the Forum that grew from the discussion group bears his name.
---Ron Latanision, 26 March 2022