Advanced Materials and Clean Tech: Challenges and Opportunities with a Dose of Reality, Dr. Walter Cicha

According to a May 2016 article in Canadian Business, Canada’s clean tech industry “is bigger than we think”. And clean technology is one of the focal areas in the 2016 Federal Budget, with $1 billion proposed for allocation to its further development over four years, starting in 2017-18. In North America as well as globally, the new millennium has seen a definite step-change increase in clean technology development and deployment, involving many sectors and depending on advancements in the structural understanding and performance of advanced materials. Yet, from 2000 to 2015 the share of fossil fuels in global primary energy supply has decreased insignificantly, from 87 % to 86 %, with global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions steadily rising and atmospheric CO2 levels climbing above 400 ppm. Utilizing insights from a variety of external sources and also from the speaker’s own experiences, this presentation will try to make sense of the complex set of challenges that continue to limit more impactful progress of clean tech, from a materials development perspective. In the process, a number of technical and business opportunities – global as well as specific to Canada and BC – will be highlighted.