Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame

Distinguished Lectures

2013 Schedule

November 5 Patrick McCullough, CEO of Amonix
October 29 Thomas Degnan, Jr., ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company
April 19 George Crabtree, Argonne National Laboratory
April 2 Edward S. Rubin, Carnegie Mellon University
March 25 Michael Skelly, President, Clean Line Energy
March 21 Rocky Anderson, Presidential Candidate, Mayor
March 18 William Kamkwamba, Dartmouth College
March 6 Per-Ola Norrby, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
February 7 Sara E. Skrabalak, Indiana University, Bloomington



Tuesday, November 5, 2013
1:00-2:00 pm., Montgomery Auditorium, LaFortune
"Solar Power and Commercialization"

Patrick McCullough (ND '95)
CEO of Amonix
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Patrick McCullough is the Chief Executive Officer of Amonix. Amonix is the leading designer and manufacturer of concentrated (CPV) solar power systems which require no water in power production, use land more efficiently, and produce more energy per acre than any other solar technology. Amonix was founded in 1989 and is headquartered in Seal Beach, CA, with an additional facility in Torrance, CA. With 23 years in business, 18 years of real-world CPV deployments, and eight generations of system development, Amonix is the proven best choice for utility-scale solar in sunny and dry climates. Designed for utility-scale installations, Amonix ­systems deploy quickly and achieve optimal performance and reliability while delivering renewable energy at industry-leading low operating costs based on 29% system efficiency (33% module, 40% production cell).


Mr. McCullough has over 18 years of corporate leadership experience and has accrued significant expertise leading industrial equipment, building products, and automotive companies. Prior to Amonix, Mr. McCullough was the CFO and Senior Vice President of IMI Severe Service Division, a global leader in severe service valve and control solutions for the fossil fuel, nuclear power, and chemical processing industries. He began his career at Ford Motor Company and worked for Berkshire Hathaway prior to joining IMI. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame’s MBA/Mechanical Engineering Joint Degree Program.

Sponsored by the College of Engineering, Mendoza College of Business, Department of Electrical Engineering, ND Nano: Center for Nano Science and Technology, and the Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (cSEND).



Tuesday, October 29, 2013
3:30 - 5:00 pm, Eck Visitors Center Auditorium
"The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040"

Thomas Degnan, Jr. (ND '73)
ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company

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Abstract:  The world’s economy literally runs on energy. To support continued economic progress for the world’s growing population, more energy will be needed. Even with significant improvements in energy efficiency, the world’s total energy demand is expected to be approximately 40 percent higher by 2040 than it was in 2010. The vast majority of this demand increase will take place in developing countries, where economies are growing most rapidly and modern energy supplies are still a precious commodity for millions of people.  Meeting higher energy requirements poses many challenges, including boosting efficiency, developing new supplies and managing environmental risks. This presentation summarizes ExxonMobil’s long-term outlook for energy. The outlook is developed annually via an ongoing assessment process that has been conducted over decades. The results assist ExxonMobil’s business planning, and are shared publicly to help build understanding of the world’s energy needs and challenges.

The presentation focuses on energy demand to the year 2040, with particular emphasis on the increasing needs of the power generation and transportation sectors. It also examines how rising demand will be met from the various energy sources available, including fossil fuels, nuclear power and renewable energies. It also provides insight to the challenge of meeting growing energy needs while significantly mitigating greenhouse global carbon dioxide emissions.


Tom received his B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, a the same discipline from the University of Delaware, and an M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Minnesota. He spent four years in 3M’s Central Research organization in St. Paul, MN before moving to Mobil Research and Development in 1980. Tom has spent most of his career in exploratory process development, catalysis,catalyst development, and research management working for Mobil and now ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company. He is presently Manager, New Leads Generation and Breakthrough Technologies and is located at ExxonMobil’s Clinton, NJ facility.

He is a member of the North American Catalysis Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemical Society and the Research and Development Council of New Jersey.



Fri April 19, 2013
2:30pm, 123 Nieuwland Science Hall
"Beyond Lithium-Ion Batteries"

George Crabtree
Argonne National Laboratory
University of Illinois at Chicago
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The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) develops concepts and technologies for portable electricity storage for transportation and stationary electric storage for the electricity grid. Electrified transportation replaces foreign oil with a host of domestic electricity sources such as gas, nuclear, wind and solar, and utility-scale electric storage enables the grid to bridge the peaks and valleys of variable wind and solar generation and of consumer demand. JCESR looks beyond Li-ion technology to new materials and phenomena to achieve the factor of five increases in performance needed to realize these transformational societal outcomes.

JCESR will leave three legacies: a library of fundamental scientific knowledge of materials and phenomena needed for next-generation batteries, demonstration of battery prototypes suitable for scale up to manufacturing for transportation and the grid, and a new end-to-end integrated operational paradigm for battery research and development spanning discovery research, design, and demonstration.

JCESR is a recently funded Department of Energy researchcenter (battery hub) with a $125 million overall budget.


George Crabtree holds the ranks of Senior Scientist, Distinguished Fellow and Associate Division Director in the Materials Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory. He has won numerous awards for his research, most recently the Kammerlingh Onnes Prize in 2003 for his work on the physics of vortices in high temperature superconductors. This prestigious prize is awarded once every three years; Dr. Crabtree is its second recipient. He has won the University of Chicago Award for Distinguished Performance at Argonne twice, and the U.S. Department of Energy's Award for Outstanding Scientific Accomplishment in Solid State Physics four times, a notable accomplishment. He has an R&D 100 Award for his pioneering development of Magnetic Flux Imaging Systems. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a charter member of ISI's Highly Cited Researchers in Physics, and a Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Crabtree has served as Chairman of the Division of Condensed Matter of the American Physical Society, as a Founding Editor of the scientific journal Physica C, as Divisional Associate Editor of Physical Review Letters, as Chair of the Advisory Committee for the National Magnet Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida, and as Editor of several review issues of Physica C devoted to superconductivity. He has published more than 350 papers in leading scientific journals, has collected over 14,000 career citations, and has given approximately 100 invited talks at national and international scientific conferences. His research interests include materials science, sustainable energy, nanoscale superconductors and magnets, vortex matter in superconductors, highly correlated electrons in metals. He has led workshops for the Department of Energy on hydrogen, solar energy, superconductivity, and materials under extreme environments, co-chaired the Undersecretary of Energy's assessment of DOE's Applied Energy Programs. He has testified before the U.S. Congress on the hydrogen economy and on meeting sustainable energy challenges.

A reception will be held following the lecture in 202 Nieuwland Science Hall. The lecture and reception are open to Notre Dame faculty, students, and staff and the general public.


Tues April 2, 2013
3:30pm, 140 DeBartolo Hall
"A Modeling Framework to Access Costs and Uncertainties of Carbon Capture Technology Options"

Edward S. Rubin
Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract: Global climate change concerns have sparked widespread interest in CO2 capture and storage (CCS) as a method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electric power plants and other large industrial facilities. In turn, the high cost of current CCS technology has spawned major R&D programs in the U.S. and elsewhere to develop more cost-effective methods of CO2 capture, the most costly component of the CCS chain. This presentation will review the current status of performance and cost estimates for CCS, and discuss the key factors that influence CCS costs. Because of the large number of variables involved, analysis tools are needed that can help researchers, program managers, policy analysts, and technology developers to systematically evaluate alternative processes options—as well as the risks and potential payoffs of R&D in new technology. One such tool developed by Carnegie Mellon University for the U.S. Department of Energy is the IECM (for Integrated Environmental Control Model) —a publicly available computer model used worldwide to evaluate alternative CCS options for fossil fuel power plants (including PC, IGCC and NGCC designs). Examples of how this modeling framework can be used to evaluate and compare current and emerging technology options for a variety of situations will be discussed and illustrated, along with plans for its future development.

Bio: Dr. Edward S. Rubin is the Alumni Chair Professor of Environmental Engineering and Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He holds joint appointments in the Departments of Engineering & Public Policy, and Mechanical Engineering, and was the founding director of the university’s Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, and the Environmental Institute. He served as a coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage, and more recently on the U.S. National Academies study of “America’s Climate Choices.” He also served on “blue ribbon” advisory committees to the State of California and the Province of Alberta (Canada) on policies for carbon capture and storage. He is the author of over 300 technical publications and recipient of the Lyman A. Ripperton Award for distinguished achievements as an educator, and the Distinguished Professor of Engineering Award for outstanding achievements in engineering research, education and public service.  Dr. Rubin received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the City College of New York and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University.

Sponsored by cSEND and the Department of  Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering



Mon March 25, 2013
12:00pm, 162 Mendoza College of Business
"Sustainable Business"

Michael Skelly, President
Clean Line Energy Partners
"State of the Wind Industry" Presentation

Abstract: Clean Line Energy is developing a series of high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines that will deliver thousands of megawatts of renewable energy from the windiest areas of the United States to communities and cities that have a strong demand for clean, reliable energy but lack access to clean energy resources.

Bio: Michael Skelly is the Founder and President of Clean Line Energy, which focuses on developing high voltage, long-haul transmission lines to connect the best renewable energy resources in North America to communities and cities that lack access to new, low-cost renewable power. Previous to Clean Line, Mr. Skelly led the development of Horizon Wind Energy from a two-man operation to a company that now holds a strong leadership position in the U.S. wind industry. Before Horizon, Mr. Skelly developed thermal, hydroelectric, biomass and wind energy projects in Central America with Energia Global. In the early 1990’s, he co-founded the Rain Forest Aerial Tram, a mile-long tramway system that takes visitors on an aerial tour of the rain forest in Costa Rica. In 2008, he ran for the United States Congress as the Democratic nominee in the seventh District of Texas.

Mr. Skelly holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Notre Dame (ND ’84). He served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Central America before obtaining an MBA from Harvard Business School. Today, Mr. Skelly sits on the board of C12 Energy and the Houston Parks board.



Thur March 21, 2013
9:30am, Patrick F. McCartan Courtroom
"Symposium: Green Technology: Legal, Ethical and Moral Considerations
Rocky Anderson
Mayor, Presidential Candidate

Abstract: The Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (cSEND) is proud to be a co-sponsor of the upcoming symposium entitled "Green Technology: Legal, Ethical and Moral Considerations" hosted by the Notre Dame Law School’s Journal of Law, Ethics, and Public Policy (JLEPP) on Thursday, March 21, 2013. 

JLEPP is unique among scholarly journals with a mission to explore the legal, ethical, and policy considerations of various topics within the Judeo-Christian intellectual and moral tradition. This year’s symposium explores these considerations for green technology. This symposium is supported by the JLEPP advisor, Professor Carter Snead, a distinguished member of the Notre Dame Law School faculty, specializing in the governance of science, medicine, and biotechnology in the name of ethical good. In addition, Professor Bruce Huber, one of Notre Dame Law School’s environmental law experts, will serve as the moderator for the panel discussion. The panel includes:

Dr. Bernard Goldstein, professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health. Dr. Goldstein is an expert on the public health implications of Marcellus Shale activities as well as the scientific framework for sustainability. His panel discussion will focus around assessing the risks and benefits of unconventional shale gas extraction.

Professor Andrew (Sandy) Askland, professor at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, a Senior Sustainability Scientist at the Global Institute of Sustainability, and the Director of the Center for the Study of Law, Science, and Innovation. Professor Askland will be presenting his paper, "Breaking Up is Hard to Do: American Exceptionalism and the Transition to a Renewable Energy Future," discussing the transitioning from fossil fuel to alternative energy through a malleable market model.

Professor Ross Pifer, Clinical Professor and the Director of the Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center at Penn State Dickinson School of Law. Profesor Pifer served as an attorney-advisor in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of General Counsel. His article for the symposium issue is entitled "A Greener Shade of Blue?: Technology and the Shale Revolution," discussing the Marcellus Shale formation and the affects on humans and the environment.

Professor John Copeland Nagle, one of Notre Dame Law School’s most distinguished faculty members in Environmental Law. Professor Nagle’s areas of expertise include environmental pollution, cultural pollution, the role of religion in environmental law, biodiversity and the law, and climate change. At the symposium, his discussion will focus around the law and the balancing of green benefits and green harms.

The symposium is open to all Notre Dame faculty, students, and staff, and the general public free of charge.

Bio: Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City (2000-2008), is nationally recognized for his advocacy for climate protection and was named as one of the top twenty activists in the world on climate change by Business Week. In addition, he served on the Newsweek Global Environmental Leadership Advisory Board. As keynote speaker, Mayor Anderson will speak about human rights and the moral obligation for action on climate change.



Mon March 18, 2013
7:00pm, McKenna Hall Auditorium
"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind"

William Kumkwamba
Dartmouth College

Abstract: William Kamkwamba is a Malawian inventor, author and student. After being forced to drop out of school because his family could not afford tuition he regularly visited his village's library. There, he found the book Using Energy and discovered a picture and explanation of windmills. He gained fame in his country when, in 2002, he built a windmill to power a few electrical appliances in his family's house using parts collected in a local scrapyard. Since then, he has built a solar-powered water pump that supplies the first drinking water in his village.

His story is told in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, published in 2009.  Kamkwamba is one of four recipients of the 2010 GO Ingenuity Award, a prize awarded to inventors, artists, and makers to promote the sharing of their innovations and skills with marginalized youth in developing nations.

Book signing and reception to follow the lecture. This event if free and open to the public. The lecture takes place in McKenna Hall Auditorium. Parking is at the visitor lot south of Legends. 

Bio: Currently, he is a student at Dartmouth College, Class of 2014.

Generously sponsored by: cSEND Energy Lecture Series, College of Engineering Edison Lecture Fund, College of Science Lynch Endowment, Center for Social Concerns, Reilly Center, College of Arts and Letters, and the Office of Sustainability and in partnership with Malawi Matters.



Wed March 6, 2013
2:30pm, Radiation Laboratory Auditorium
"Sustainable Catalysis"

Per-Ola Norrby
Professor, Organic Chemistry
Chemistry and Molecular Biology
University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Abstract: In a future sustainable society, all raw materials must be obtained from renewable sources. Our current industry is largely based on fossil feedstock. A wide range of chemical transformations have been tailored to maximize the efficiency of converting this raw material into value-added products. Biomass contains functionalities that are very different from the alkanes and alkenes that dominate fossil sources. Thus, new or modified chemical reactions are needed to convert the available biomass either into intermediates that can enter the current processing (pyrolysis, Fischer-Tropsch), or methods that can utilize the additional complexity of biologically derived materials to go directly to more advanced products. Our current research is focused on the latter opportunity, and specifically to utilize the alcohol group that is very prevalent in many types of biomass. Several noble metals can be used in hydrogen-transfer processes to go directly from feeds like carbohydrates or glycerol to various coupling products. We are currently investigating the detailed mechanism of these transformations using iridium catalysts.

Efficient chemical processing is to a large extent based on catalytic processes in flow systems. Engineering solutions for such processes require that catalysts can be immobilized, and not leached in the product stream. For many complex chemical transformations, the most selective methods are based on homogeneous catalysis, but such catalysts are not easily immobilized in a flow process. The SYNFLOW consortium in Europe ( is a collaborative network of 19 academic and industrial nodes, aimed at enabling general solutions for flow applications of homogeneous catalysts. Some of the solutions we have arrived at are discussed in the current talk. I will also show how theoretical chemistry can be used to support this project.

Sponsored by cSEND



Thur February 7, 2013
12:30pm, 240 DeBartolo Hall
"Shaping the Synthesis of Bimetallic Nanocrystals"

Sara E. Skrabalak
Assistant Professor, Indiana University, Bloomington

Abstract:  Her research group is developing new synthetic methods to shape- and architecturally-controlled solids then studying the structure-function relationships of prepared materials as they are applied to energy applications.

Bio:  Sara Skrabalak received her B.A. in chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis in 2002. She then attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, joining Professor Ken Suslick's laboratory. She received her Ph.D. in chemistry, with an emphasis on materials, from UIUC in the fall of 2006 and was the recipient of the T. S. Piper Thesis Research Award for her dissertation entitled: Porous Materials Prepared by Ultrasonic Spray Pyrolysis. She then did postdoctoral work at the University of Washington-Seattle beginning in 2007 with Professors Younan Xia and Xingde Li. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Indiana University Bloomington.

Sponsored by cSEND and the Department of Chemistry