Advancing Clean Energy: Georgia Tech Hosts Energy Materials Day

Chaouki Abdallah speaking at the Georgia Tech Energy Materials Day

More than 400 people participated in Energy Materials Day on March 27, as researchers and industry leaders came together to discuss and advance energy materials technologies such as solar energy, carbon-neutral fuels, and batteries.

Energy materials are the things — natural, manufactured, or both — that aid the use of energy. They also play a key role in developing cleaner, more efficient energy solutions.

Energy Materials Day was co-hosted by Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute (SEI), the Institute for Materials (IMat), and the Georgia Tech Advanced Battery Center. The event evolved out of last year’s Georgia Tech Battery Day.

“As an engine of innovation in science and technology, Georgia Tech has incredible opportunities and the responsibility to conduct research to benefit society,” said Chaouki Abdallah, executive vice president for Research at Georgia Tech. “We call this ‘research that matters.’”

Events like Energy Materials Day are part of an ongoing, long-range effort to position Georgia Tech, and Georgia, as a go-to location for modern energy companies. Tech was recently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the top public university for energy research. Abdallah also outlined why Georgia Tech, with more than 1,000 researchers across campus working in the energy space, is a natural fit for events that foster collaboration between the public and private sectors.

“Right here, right now, we have the opportunity to harness our collective powers, our collective knowledge, our collective resources to become a global engine of innovation,” he said.

Plenary speaker Danielle Merfeld, global chief technology officer at QCells, highlighted opportunities for the current and future clean energy infrastructure in the United States.

"At the heart of our discussions today [are these questions]: What is new technology, and how do you make it ... and make it at scale, in an affordable, accessible, and reliable way?” she said.

"... [The] good news is this country has taken a very deliberate step toward creating the most robust industrial policy we've had in decades. ... This is driving opportunity and creating the foundation for manufacturing. So, [we can] use that industrial base of making and consuming power [and] decarbonize the electric grid by 2035...."

“Events like this are so important to forwarding progress in research and industry,” said Eric Vogel, IMat’s executive director. “It’s important to bring together professionals throughout the industry to keep these lines of communication open.”

The day was divided into three tracks: battery materials and technologies, photovoltaics and the grid, and materials for carbon-neutral fuel production. Attendees were encouraged to listen to talks from all three areas. Each track included academic speakers who shared their research and private-sector speakers who described how technological advancements are affecting the industry.

“With its rich history in energy research, Georgia Tech remains a leader in addressing global energy challenges,” said Tim Lieuwen, executive director of SEI. “The success of Energy Materials Day is encouraging, and I eagerly anticipate continuing these discussions in 2025.”

Danielle Merfeld presents the keynote at Energy Materials Day
Danielle Merfeld presents the keynote at Energy Materials Day
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Amelia Neumeister
Research Communications Program Manager