Energy & Fuels: Past, Present & Future With Michael T. Klein

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In celebration of Eath Day 2016, Energy & Fuels Editor-in-Chief Michael T. Klein discusses the state of energy research.

You’ve been the EIC of Energy & Fuels since 2002. How has the field of energy and fuels research changed in that time? 

The most significant change is that virtually all possible energy solutions are placed in and motivated by an environmental context.  This is a very healthy development in the field of energy and fuels. This is true for all energy solutions, ranging from the use of fossil fuels in a clean and sustainable manner to the development of carbon-free alternatives.

 You’ve recently published two paper on gasification of plastics and biomass. What are the major challenges in the waste-to-energy technology space? 

The major scientific challenge is to sort through the complexity of the gasification feed stocks and reaction networks to allow fundamental chemistry to help in the optimization of the problem.  The technological issues are similar to those found in other large-scale energy unit operations.

What do you think of media coverage of energy research? Are there areas you wish got more attention? Less? Are there misconceptions you wish you could clear up?

The media coverage is widespread and very useful.  The challenge is that the overall energy landscape is very diverse and challenging and difficult for one person to understand. Thus we rely on the media for information and analysis.  The balance of objective analysis and advocacy for any one position is important and should be a conscious part of media coverage.

What areas of energy research do you personally find most interesting? Are there topics you think all researchers in the field should monitor closely?  

The energy field contains a very diverse collection of potential solutions.  The underlying science can be very different.  I find those that involve chemistry to be most interesting because I have the best chance to follow the details.  I also find the science and technology of other potential solutions to be very exciting, both because of their impressive science and engineering content and the societal impact they represent.

Read more about Michael T. Klein’s work in Energy & Fuels.