Michael J. Aziz
Michael J. Aziz
- Gene and Tracy Sykes Professor of Materials and Energy Technologies
- Faculty Associate, Harvard University Center for the Environment
- Faculty coordinator, Graduate Consortium for Energy and Environment, Harvard University Center for the Environment, 2009-2018
- Green Energy Storage, S.r.l., Scientific Advisory Committee, equity holder, licensed intellectual property
Professor Aziz has made significant contributions to a number of fields in applied physics and materials science including the kinetics of rapid solidification, pressure and stress effects on kinetics of diffusion and growth, nonequilibrium surface pattern formation during ion irradiation, and applications of materials synthesized utilizing nonequilibrium kinetics.
His current research interests include novel materials and processes for energy technology and greenhouse gas mitigation.
Finding the energy to power human civilization without ruining the environment is the greatest challenge facing humanity this century. World energy demand is projected to double by mid-century and triple by the end of the century. The overwhelming majority of this power is provided by the combustion of fossil fuels. Their combustion emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. To mitigate the most catastrophic effects of climate change, carbon-emitting power sources must be ramped down and replaced by carbon-free power sources such as wind, solar, biomass and, arguably, nuclear.
The cost of wind and photovoltaic electricity has dropped so far that the greatest technical obstacle to us getting the vast majority of our electricity from these carbon-free and renewable sources is their intermittency. The ability to inexpensively and safely store large amounts of energy for use when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining could solve this problem.
The current research of Professor Aziz is centered on stationary electrical energy storage. He pioneered the introduction of aqueous-soluble energy-storing organic molecules into flow batteries, which store the energy in tanks of fluids outside the battery container itself. This approach is advancing the prospects for fireproof, cost effective energy storage in tanks full of aqueous electrolytes.
Professor Aziz is also developing a method of capturing carbon dioxide from a power plant exhaust stream or from the air using the organic molecules that have similar functionality to used in flow batteries.
Positions & Employment
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
- Present: Gene and Tracy Sykes Professor of Materials and Energy Technologies