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The Energy Transition: Paving a Way to a Decarbonized Future

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Friday, September 29, 2023, 10 am

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Chemical Engineering Seminar

Alan Nelson

Vice President Technology
SLB New Energy


Climate change is our most serious generational challenge. While history has shown Earth’s climate in a constant state of flux, current global warming is happening now at an unprecedented rate not seen in the past 10,000 years. Carbon dioxide levels rose to peak at 421 ppm in May 2023, the highest carbon dioxide reading since reliable instrument data began 63 years ago, and evidence shows it is also at a level not seen since well before the start of human history. That is, we are approaching levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not seen since more than 4 million years ago. Not only is carbon dioxide now at its highest levels in the chronicles of mankind, but one would have to go all the way back beyond the beginning of this history – to the Pliocene Epoch (4.1 to 4.5 million years ago) to find a time when Earth's atmosphere held a similar amount of carbon dioxide. The last time this happened there were catastrophic events. A majority of global carbon dioxide (equivalent) emissions are energy-related. Through decarbonizing energy supplies and industrial operations, and innovating new energy systems, we can drive progress for the world. Making this happen requires a focused effort on carbon capture and storage, renewable-based energy carriers (long-duration energy storage), sustainable production of critical minerals, and unlocking geothermal energy amongst other innovation-focused opportunities. Realizing these challenges, it is critical to act on decarbonizing energy and delivering new energy systems today, now more than ever. This is one story of an energy company looking forward to leading these efforts in decarbonization and delivering new energy systems for a balanced planet.


Alan E. Nelson is the Vice President of Technology at SLB, and previously was Senior Vice President of Battery Materials for Redwood Materials, Chief Technology Officer for Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC), Chief Technology Officer and CEO of New Business Development for Johnson Matthey, Global R&D Director for The Dow Chemical Co., and Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Univ. of Alberta. He is also the 2024 President of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Alan has led the development and commercialization of environmentally sustainable technologies, including lithium-ion batteries, fuel cells, carbon capture and storage, and hydrogen production. Alan is a Chartered Engineer in the U.K., a Fellow of AIChE, and a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE). He received a BS from University of Minnesota Duluth and PhD from Michigan Technological University, both in chemical engineering.

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