Skip to 0 minutes and 4 secondsWelcome to week 4, the final week of How to Survive on Earth-- Energy Materials for a Sustainable Future. So far in the course, we have discussed the potential of developing better energy materials to be able to use the sun's free energy to power the planet, just like, well, plants have been doing. Now, while we are trying to develop new energy materials to survive on earth sustainably because the current ones that we dig out of the ground, coal, oil, or gas, are threatening the planet's survival, plants have been maintaining the planet for millions of years, capturing and storing the sun's energy using photosynthesis. In our quest for sustainable energy generation, could we create, well, a sort of artificial photosynthesis?

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 secondsWhat would that mean for energy storage and use because plants don't store electricity? Would we have to grow our energy materials? Like many other aspects of life, nature shows us possibilities. But we don't copy exactly those processes. Nature shows us flight, but our airplanes don't flap their wings.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 secondsPhotosynthesis shows us the possibility of using the sun's energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, in the process creating food or fuels from the carbon dioxide that is causing climate change. Why can't we just copy that? Well, those sustainable natural processes and energy materials have evolved over millions of years, but we have only been trying to understand and emulate some of them for less than 100. But we're making progress in developing materials that do the kind of things plants do. So this week, we're going to discuss those materials as well as incredible superconducting materials that can do what plants can't do-- transport energy really efficiently. Let's go and find out.

Welcome to Week 4

Welcome to week 4, the final week of How to Survive on Earth- Energy Materials for a Sustainable Future.

So far in the course, we have discussed the potential of developing better energy materials to be able to use the sun’s free energy to power the planet, just like plants have been doing for millions of years.

Now we are trying to develop new energy materials to allow us to survive on earth sustainably, because the ones that we take out of the ground at present - coal, oil, and gas, are threatening our ability to survive on the planet.

When looking towards the future, and how we could survive on earth utilising materials, there are a number of topics we need to consider, including:

  • How much should we mimic nature?
  • Can we ‘personalise energy’ for ourselves and our homes?
  • Should we maintain large scale energy infrastructures in our cities, countries or continents?

This week we will begin to tackle these massive questions.

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How to Survive on Earth: Energy Materials for a Sustainable Future

University of Wollongong

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