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March 29, 2017

TAMUQ Hosts Solarthermal Chemistry Expert

The fourth talk in Texas A&M University at Qatar’s 2016-2017 Distinguished Lecture Series featured Dr. Alan W. Weimer from the University of Colorado Boulder (USA).
In his talk, “Solarthermal Chemistry — The Path Forward,” Weimer provided a framework for using concentrated sunlight and renewable electricity to drive chemical processing. He said solarthermal opportunities are plentiful in several regions of the world, including Africa, Australia and the Middle East. Solar energy is the undisputed champion of renewable energies and the sun plays a unique role in energy production, Weimer said. Therefore, it is critical to invest, develop and commercialize energy production processes for sustainable energy.

“There’s an incredible amount of sunlight in Qatar — if you can harness it,” he said.

Weimer said that although photovoltaic (PV) cells have won the solar race, the better way to go might be hybrid solar PV/chemical-solarthermal farms in which energy from the sun is collected and focused to drive chemical reactions that would in turn produce electricity.

Weimer said that although photovoltaic (PV) cells have won the first leg of the solar race, solar thermo-chemical processes have proven that the better way to go might be hybrid, i.e., solar PV and thermochemical-processing farms in which energy from the sun produces electricity during daylight but in parallel is “collected” to drive chemical reactions that store energy later use.

Weimer is the H.T. Sears Memorial Professor and C2B2 Executive Director in the Chemical and Biological Engineering department at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a globally recognized expert in fluid-particle processing, solar technologies, and nano-materials. Weimer is co-author of more than 300 journal publications with more than 5,000 citations, holds more than more than 30 patents and has formed two spinoff companies.

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