Science for Human Sake

Electrochemical Energy SummitECS’s Electrochemical Energy Summit brings together policymakers and researchers from around the globe to discuss the ways in which science impacts the planet’s key sustainability issues. During the 232nd ECS Meeting, taking place October 1-6 in National Harbor, MD.

The 7th International ECS Electrochemical Energy Summit: Human Sustainability – Energy, Water, Food, and Health, is set to include three distinct symposia: Energy-Water Nexus; The Brain and Electrochemistry; and Sensors for Food Safety, Quality, and Security.

The deadline for abstract submission for the 232nd ECS Meeting is April 7. Submit today!

Energy-Water Nexus

The Energy-Water Nexus symposium, organized by ECS fellow Eric Wachsman, will focus on the connection between energy and water and emerging technologies that could improve access to clean, safe, and affordable resources across the globe. In addition to technical sessions ranging from membranes for water purification to fuel cells, the symposium will feature talks from members of federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Interior, to discuss funding opportunities.

Eric Wachsman

Eric Wachsman, ECS fellow and University of Maryland professor

“We’re looking to bring agencies in to explain the programs they have and the funding that’s available,” says Wachsman, William L. Crentz Centennial Chair in Energy Research at the University of Maryland. “It’s important to understand the broader impacts of the research. It’s great to do science for science’s sake, but we’d like to broaden that to doing science for human sake.”

In order to purify water, a great deal of energy is necessary; and the production of energy uses a lot of water. The process to generate thermoelectric power is heavily dependent on water, accounting for 40 percent of fresh water used in the U.S. On the other side, water infrastructure uses upwards of 18 percent of the country’s electricity to effectively pump and treat water. In order to meet future energy and water demands and make production processes more efficient, electrochemists must find ways to minimize the need or impact of one on the other.

The relationship between energy and water becomes even more complicated when analyzed through a global perspective. Climate change has accelerated extreme weather patterns, resulting in less availability of water in arid regions that can least afford it. On top of that, 2.6 billion people across the globe already lack access to safe and effective forms of sanitation.

“A lot of the technologies that can be used to address these issues are electrochemical,” Wachsman says.

The Energy-Water Nexus symposium will take a technical look at these global issues and introduce potential funding streams with presentations by organizations like the National Science Foundation, which has awarded upwards of $75 million annually to back topics related to the energy-water nexus.

“This symposium provides an opportunity for researchers to see what the broader picture is,” Wachsman says. “This is a chance to see the impact of the research and how it can improve the world.”

The Brain and Electrochemistry

The Brain and Electrochemistry symposium will focus on research and developments in the brain, central nervous system, and the peripheral nervous system. Former secretary of the ECS Board of Directors, Lili Deligianni, hopes to open the doors to this exciting field for electrochemical and solid state scientists, highlighting interdisciplinary approaches to emerging technologies and potential funding streams from government and other large agencies.

Lili Deligianni

Lili Deligianni, former ECS secretary and IBM researcher

“To date, electrochemistry has not really been a central part of this discussion, so we’re looking to enable that and make the electrochemical community part of this field,” says Deligianni, organizer of the symposium and research scientist and principal investigator at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center. “We’re looking to start a dialogue between neuroscientists and electrochemists and materials scientists in this field.”

The symposium is set to kick off with talks from government officials who sponsor research agendas, including Nick Langhals, program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; and Michael Wolfson, program director at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. At the conclusion of the talks, the symposium will host a panel discussion to explore what type of research has been funded and what the future research needs look like in the field.

Additionally, the symposium will host a variety of interdisciplinary technical sessions, covering the topics of neural stimulation; electrophysiology, honoring Christian Amatore; neurochemistry, honoring Mark Wightman; computational neuroscience, focusing on machine learning and big data; and materials, degradation, and power sources of neural implants.

“The goal here is to bring together the different disciplines and allow them to have a common dialogue,” Deligianni says.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 30 percent of all disease burden is due to brain disorders. Additionally, those disorders cost nearly $100 billion annually. By bringing together a vast array of researchers with diverse scientific backgrounds and government officials charged with funding streams, Deligianni believes that electrochemists and solid state scientists could add significant contributions to some of the most pressing issues in this field.

“We need to find out what areas are being funded today and where the new areas are that we need to explore,” Deligianni says. “This symposium will enable more collaboration.”

Sensors for Food Safety, Quality, and Security

The Sensors for Food Safety, Quality, and Security symposium will be a one day, poster-focused session. In addition to the technical posters, the symposium will feature five overview talks from government, industry, and association representatives; including Sonny Ramasawamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Bryan Chin

Bryan Chin, former ECS division chair and Auburn University professor

The five overview talks will focus on broad trends in the field and “research roadmaps,” which refer to the planning and implementation of government funding in the areas of food safety, quality, and security. These talks are set to include program directors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Agricultural Research Service.

“We’re hoping that the researchers will be able to hear about the roadmaps so they can better understand how to compete in the funding process,” says Bryan Chin, past chair of the ECS Sensor Division and organizer of the symposium.

In addition to the overview, the poster session will explore how sensors can detect naturally occurring and deliberate contamination of food. Topics are set to cover sustainability in food related issues, including how to use sensors to conserve energy and water used in agriculture; and field sensors for the detection of food borne pathogens, toxic ingredients, and other substances relevant to food safety.

“Over 80 percent of the water that’s used annually and over 30 percent of the energy in the world goes to agriculture,” says Chin, Breeden Professor of Engineering at Auburn University. “Food, of course, is a required output for all mankind. The production of food adversely affects both energy and water availability.”

Additional topics of interest include sensors for monitoring fertilizer usage as to prevent overuse and runoff, which harms ecosystems and can lead to algae blooms; and sensors for food quality, covering areas related to organic food and the availability of fresh produce.

Submit your abstracts for the Energy-Water Nexus, The Brain and Electrochemistry, or Sensor for Food Safety, Quality, and Security symposium today!

PS: Check out what happened at the 5th International Electrochemical Energy Summit.


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