12 Years to Limit Climate Change

Twelve. That’s how many years scientists predict are left to further prevent the consequences of climate change, before each half degree leads to worsening conditions, including risks of drought, floods, and extreme heat, according to UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Devastating hurricanes in the U.S., record droughts in Cape Town, and forest fires in the Arctic are already revealing the current effects of global warming, the IPCC report says,  warning that every fraction of additional warming could worsen the impact.


Leveraging electrochemistry to beat diabetes

World Health DayThis year’s World Health Day focuses on diabetes and reducing the burden of a disease that affects over 420 million people worldwide. To put that in perspective, that number rested at 180 million in 1980. It is expected to more than double within the next 20 years.

So how can we beat diabetes? Well, electrochemistry has the potential to play a rather large role in halting the rise of this disease that kills 1.5 million people each year.

A pioneer in diabetes management

Meet Adam Heller, electrochemist and inventor of the FreeStyle and FreeStyle Libre systems; glucose monitoring devices that changed diabetes management technology.

“People were pricking their fingers and taking large blood drops,” Heller, ECS honorary member, said. “It was painful: get a strip, touch it, get a blood sample, measure the glycemia (the blood glucose concentration).”

Around 20 years ago, Heller decided to address the pressing issue of how to accurately, easily, and affordably monitor blood glucose levels. As an electrochemist, he took his work in the electrical wiring of redox enzymes and began to apply it to glucose and diabetes management.

“[My son] observed that if he pricks his skin in the arm, he can painlessly get a much smaller sample of blood,” Heller, who was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for his efforts in diabetes management technology, said. “By pricking his finger, he got, painfully, a large drop of blood. So he asked me, ‘Can we make a sensor for such a small sample of blood?’ I knew that it could be done if I used a small enough electrode.”


Solar Geoengineering and Climate Change

The Earth is getting warmer and greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise. With carbon dioxide levels at their highest in 650,000 years, scientists across the global are grappling with the question of how to stop global warming.

For many, alternative energy sources are the answer. While the implementation of this technology is crucial for the development of a carbon-free society, flipping the grid is easier said than done. The U.S. alone is highly dependent on fossil fuels, which emit high level of greenhouse gases. Additionally, transitioning the grid to 100 percent renewables would not fully solve the issue. Emissions will still exist in the atmosphere, with warming happening right now.

“When people emerge from poverty and move toward prosperity, they consume more energy,” said Adam Heller in a recent plenary lecture.

The Need for a Solution

Currently, 13 percent of carbon dioxide emissions stem from two industries: steel and cement. According to Heller, these industry are directly correlated to global wealth—what he deems the driving force of acceleration in climate change. To put that in perspective, the solar energy technology that is currently in place in the U.S. saves only 0.3 percent through the use of solar energy, according to Heller. With carbon dioxide emissions constantly accelerating, increasing by 2 percent every year, scientists are looking for solutions to this pressing issue.

“This will lead to a catastrophe,” Heller said. “The question is, what do we do about this catastrophe?”

For Heller and other scientists, part of the answer lies in solar geoengineering (SGE).

“We need to learn something about geoengineering,” Heller said. “We need to learn something about reflecting light from the sun through aerosols in the atmosphere.”


Adam Heller and ECS Through the Years

Remember our Official ECS Major League Trading Cards? This year, we're adding a special card in honor of Adam Heller to the series.

Get your official Adam Heller trading card at the 228th ECS Meeting!

With the fifth international Electrochemical Energy Summit and the ECS Lecture by Adam Heller, the  228th ECS Meeting is poised to be one of our most significant programs in the history of the Society. While Heller’s contributions to science are well known—from lithium batteries to biomedical engineering to photoelectrochemistry—his connects to ECS may not be as familiar, but nonetheless run deep.

Notably, this is not the first lecture delivered by Heller at an ECS meeting. During the 180th ECS Meeting in 1991, Heller delivered one of four ECS lectures entitled “On the Impact of Electrochemistry on Biomedicine and the Environment.” Now, 28 years later Heller will be delivering yet another lecture at the 228th ECS Meeting in the same location as the 180th. With his scientific themes transcending the years, his lecture this year is entitled “Wealth, Global Warming and Geoengineering.”

Over 50 Years of Innovation

Aside from delivering the much anticipated ECS Lecture at the 228th ECS Meeting, Heller will also be accepting the Heinz Gerischer Award for his fundamental and applied contributions to electrochemistry and its uses. This award is especially significant due to the connection between Heller and Gerischer.