The 2020 MIT A+B Applied Energy Symposium (MITAB) was held entirely virtually this year, with both live and prerecorded online presentations from August 13–14, 2020. The conference aims to disseminate information on technologies that either (A) can be currently deployed to reduce carbon emissions (“Adult” or “Active” technologies) or (B) could be developed to do the same in the future (“Baby” or “Beyond 2050” technologies).
The 2020 meeting included invited presentations on topics including waste management, energy policy, and battery technology, including one from NSE alumna Prof. Melanie Tetreault-Friend PhD ’18 of McGill University on her work in concentrated solar power.
There were also two pre-recorded interview sessions that discussed energy innovation and the economy, both of which featured current and former NSE affiliates. Prof. Michael Golay interviewed Dr. Ralph Izzo, CEO of the Public Service Enterprise Group, and NSE alumna Dr. Ashley Finan, PhD ’12 , Director of the National Reactor Innovation Center at Idaho National Laboratory (INL), was interviewed by NSE professor Koroush Shirvan and Dr. Cheng Sun, Senior Staff Scientist at INL and former NSE visiting scientist.
Prof. Koroush Shirvan, Prof. Michael Short, and Prof. Mingda Li were on the organizing committee, and Prof. Jacopo Buongiorno, Prof. Bilge Yildiz served on the International Scientific Advisory Committee. In addition, oral presentations and papers submitted by NSE faculty, staff, students, and former students were featured in the program, covering various aspects of nuclear technology and policy.
The symposium was co-chaired by Professor Ju Li of the departments of Nuclear Science and Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, Professor Michael J. Aziz of Materials and Energy Technologies at Harvard University, and Prof. Jerry Yan (Co-Chair), the editor-in-chief of Applied Energy, with Dr. Ray (Zhenhua) Rui, a research scientist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT heading the organizing committee. The collaboration with Harvard was an addition to this year’s program, expanding both the technical and policy expertise of the participants.
Prof. Li was inspired to found MITAB, along with Dr. Rui and with support from the Applied Energy Innovation Institute, in 2018 after reading the dire predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report “Global Warming of 1.5°C,” which warned that the effects of climate change will be immediate and irreversible if steps are not taken to reduce worldwide CO2 emissions by 50% before 2030. Li was “driven by the urgency … that if it's business as usual, I’m afraid that we're just going to run out of time.”
All sessions of MITAB, from both 2019 and 2020, are available online at no cost for scientists, policymakers, and the public to use as a source of detailed technical information on current and emerging energy technologies. The success of the virtual symposium has encouraged the organizers that future MITAB meetings potentially could be held in an all-online or hybrid format in order to reduce the carbon footprint of the event.
Written by Leigh Ann Kesler.