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Introduction to the Sustainable Fuel Webinar Series

In partnership with ASU-LightWorks® and LightSpeed Solutions at Arizona State University, SSF hosted a four webinar series about the future of Future of Sustainable Transportation Fuels. Although it is difficult to predict what transportation energy will look like in 2050, investments made now will frame that future.

The goal of this four-part webinar series is to open up the conversation and draw attention to what near term actions in the next five to 20 years regarding future transportation might accelerate the transition toward sustainability, increase the economic efficiency of that transition, and minimize barriers that impede the transition or that make the transition more costly.

Click on the video or download the slides from each of the archived webinars to learn more.

Future of Sustainable Transportation Fuels Webinars Series

Future of Sustainable Transportation Fuels Webinar 1: Sustainable Transportation Fuels — Anchoring Themes

May 29, 2015
10:15 – 11:45 a.m. PDT

This webinar creates context with four major anchoring themes relevant to the future of transportation energy and fuels for which there is currently limited horizontal knowledge integration at the interfaces among relevant stakeholders. Watch and listen to the entire webinar below.

After a brief introduction, this webinar introduces four anchoring themes to start the discussion and underpin subsequent conversations.

What actions will accelerate or impede the transition?

  • Given finite resources, what alternative fuels or fuel processes investments would be prudent to ensure the transition?
  • How do external global megatrends influence the investment decisions?
  • How can innovation be incentivized by policy to help accelerate the transition?
  • Is there a competitive advantage to leading this transition?

These themes will likely surface again in subsequent webinars.


The goal of this webinar is to start to build new conceptual frameworks and shared frames of reference.


Gary Dirks, Director, Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation at Arizona State University and Director, ASU LightWorks®


Paul Bryan, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, UC Berkeley

Sharon Burke, Senior Advisor, International Security Program and Resource Security Program at New America Foundation

Kathryn Clay, Vice President, Policy Strategy at the American Gas Association

Mike Tamor, Executive Technical Leader, Ford Motor Company

Future of Sustainable Transportation Fuels Webinar 2: Coupling the Electric Power & Transportation Sectors

June 30, 2015
10:15-11:45 a.m. PDT


The basic story of “electric power to combustible fuels” is that renewable energy technologies, especially at high penetration, will at times produce “low-value electrons” in the open market, creating the potential for arbitrage. Such “electrons” could be stored for use at a different time, stored in battery electric vehicles, or used to produce water (through, for example, reverse osmosis), or used to produce hydrogen, to name a few possibilities. Some of these conversations are happening, especially surrounding battery electric vehicles. However, other conversations are also important. For example, what if many of the electrons divert to the transportation sector, are we accelerating the combined transition or making it more challenging? Are we increasing economic efficiency? Would recycling waste CO2, as a carbon source to produce fuels, facilitate a combined transition, or impede one or the other?

Numerous issues arise with a greater coupling among the sectors, hence situating electric power-to-fuels as a jumping-off point for the following types of more general questions:

  • Do current policy and business frameworks encourage and harness or impede arbitrage possibilities? Is there a need for policy support or will normal market forces suffice?
  • Could increasing communication and awareness at the interfaces among stakeholder groups lead to greater responsiveness of the combined sectors?
  • Are there more business and technology innovations at the intersection of the stationary power and transportation sectors that might add economic efficiency and accelerate the transition? Does envisioned policy actions support or impede such innovations?


Clark Miller, Senior Sustainability Scientist, Energy, Society and Policy Initiative at Arizona State University


Robin Beavers, Senior Vice President and Founder, Station A Group at NRG Energy

Dawn Manley, Sandia National Laboratories

Marc Melaina, Senior Engineer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Levi Tillemann, Jeff Leonard Fellow, New America Foundation

Future of Sustainable Transportation Fuels Webinar 3: Recycling CO2 to Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuels

July 28, 2015
10:15-11:45 a.m. PDT

Download the PDF of the webinar presentation by clicking this link


Webinar #3 will include the emerging technological possibilities for captured CO2 from waste streams (or directly from the atmosphere) and using it as a pre-concentrated carbon source to produce transportation fuels, which falls in the space of “carbon capture and utilization” (CCU). CO2-to-Fuels is a research trajectory where the policy risks are unknown because of its intersection with complex politics of mitigating the risk of climate change and constructing carbon policy. Some think affordable CO2-to-fuels would be a major feat of science and engineering that is achievable – others question both achievability and the wisdom of a technology that recycles the carbon back to the fuels system.

A conceptual risk is that CO2 is now by law treated as a pollutant leading to a primary focus on two choices, either CO2-free technologies or permanent sequestration. An alternative paradigm is waste management, which suggests adding recycling and reuse and even seeking opportunities for the waste product to be economically profitable and environmentally neutral if the right technologies are developed and deployed in a specific policy environment. The conversation could consider the implications of the impact on creating new options for policy makers to respond to and whether this can create a rapid and economically efficient response to CO2 emission control or slow down the transition by either not permanently sequestering the CO2 or extending the life of high emitters.


Thomas Seager, Associate Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University


Klaus Lackner, Director, Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, Arizona State University

James E. Miller, Principal Member of Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories

Timothy Zenk, Executive Vice President of Business Development, Algenol

Future of Sustainable Transportation Fuels Webinar 4: Challenges and Opportunities in Designing Good Metrics

July 28, 2015
10:15-11:45 a.m. PDT

Future of Sustainable Transportation Fuels – Challenges and Opportunities for Designing Good Metrics from on .


There is likely no disagreement that “objective and grounded” is a hard standard to meet when designing metrics to measure and characterize a complex socio-political-techno-economic enterprise, such as the future of transportation energy and fuels. Still, an objective, grounded approach that integrates diverse stakeholder viewpoints and facilitates coordination and responsiveness, begs for measures, even if at times they are qualitative rankings, such as low, medium, high, which all parties respect and understand, and yet may disagree on. Webinar #4 will sound out the participants on considerations and challenges for developing valuable frameworks and appropriately using metrics.

An important consideration to keep in mind is that different stakeholder groups typically have different values and beliefs deriving from different perspectives and needs or wants. It is also difficult, in designing metrics, not to subtly favor the results that we want, either from unconscious biases or by not separating the problem from the solution. A holistic systems view will underpin this discussion of metrics with an objective of surfacing where differing perspectives lead to conflicting metrics or conflicting use of the metrics.


Director, Gary Dirks, Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation at Arizona State University and Director, ASU LightWorks®


Cheryl Martin, Founder, Harwich Partners and previous Deputy Director for Commercialization of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) at the US Department of Energy

Eric Miller, Program Manager, Hydrogen Production Delivery at the US Department of Energy

Andrew Maynard, Professor, in the School for Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University

Louise Vickery, Manager, Renewable Futures at the Australian Renewable Energy Agency

James Hinkley, Research Group Leader, CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship at the Australian Renewable Energy Agency