News Release: Faculty Experts, Research, Sustainability

Jun. 2,  2010

Gulf Oil Spill Fuels Interest in Green Energy

News Article ImageChemist Craig Hill


"The spill in the Gulf, which is just heartbreaking, only underscores the necessity of seeking alternative fuel sources," President Obama said in a recent speech.

As thousands of barrels of oil gush daily into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Emory inorganic chemist Craig Hill has been spending time in Washington, speaking about the University's green energy research.

"The Gulf oil mess affects everybody," Hill said. "I think there's no question that it's having a significant impact on how we view the risks for offshore drilling as we seek ever more fossil fuel."

On May 2, Hill addressed the Council of Scientific Society Presidents in Washington on his lab's recent breakthrough in sustainable solar energy research. Work by Hill's lab on water oxidation catalysis, a crucial component of converting solar energy into clean hydrogen fuel, was recently published in Science, and is the centerpiece of the Emory Bio-inspired Renewable Energy Center.

"Emory is becoming a focal point for a lot of interest in the efforts to confront the problems of fossil fuel consumption and global climate change," Hill said. "Our team really does have the best water oxidation catalyst on the planet."

Hill is back in Washington this week and next, for Department of Energy meetings on catalysis and solar energy.

Carol Browner, Obama's top energy advisor, has called the Gulf oil gusher "probably the biggest environmental disaster this country has ever faced," and the president is pushing Congress to pass a climate change bill this year.

"Federal funding is substantial for green energy, but it's still far below what it should be," Hill said. "Everything is pointing to the fact that we're going to need alternative energy to power society. It's really a global imperative that affects health and security worldwide."

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