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Spring 2022

"Pumping Iron for Renewable Fuels"

Through the Tack Faculty Lecture Series, a William & Mary professor will address the community at least once a semester.

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The development of clean and sustainable energy is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity today. William McNamara, Wilson & Martha Claiborne Stephens Associate Professor of Chemistry at William & Mary, shared his expertise in renewable energy and demonstrated how solar fuels are being generated at W&M.

McNamara was inspired by photosynthesis, the way nature uses sunlight as an energy source, so he set his sights on developing a way to harness and store solar energy as a chemical fuel compatible with our current energy infrastructure. His “bio-inspired” approach starts with sunlight and ends with hydrogen gas and potable water. McNamara and his students are working on creating clean, efficient and cost-effective ways to harvest the sun’s energy. Much like in nature, their system converts sunlight into fuel through a series of chemical processes. The team uses fluorescein to harvest sunlight, which powers an enzyme-inspired, iron-based catalytic reaction that generates hydrogen gas from water.

Read more: McNamara to spotlight solar fuels, renewable energy in Spring Tack Faculty Lecture