A Systems Approach to Aerospace, Energy and the Environment

Ron Sega, Colorado State University

Friday, May 15, 2009

Spanos Auditorium

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This seminar is part of the Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society series

Starting with a view from our aerospace experience, this topic addresses energy and the environment from a broad perspective and frames the solution space via a systems approach. It recommends advances in technology that will be critical for our future and presents a strategy that involves supply, demand and culture change with respect to energy and the environment, with examples of demonstrated results. A strong technical foundation for developing new, more efficient operational energy systems was recognized as important in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and from FY01 to FY05, the DoD's Science and Technology (S&T) investment in Energy and Power Technologies more than doubled, representing the largest percentage increase of any S&T area. In the Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering, we focused on power generation, energy storage, and energy conversion and management. We set clear goals within the DoD in areas such as hybrid electric technology and technology for greater efficiencies in propulsion and energy conversion systems, supported alternative fuels efforts, and enhanced partnerships with industry and universities. In 2005, the U.S. Air Force created a new energy strategy, starting with a vision of "Making Energy a Consideration in Everything We Do." This comprehensive strategy addressed demand-side energy efficiencies, supply-side energy assurance options, and the establishment of a culture of conservation. An Energy Senior Focus Group oversaw this strategy and its implementation, and coordinated and developed various programs to improve supply and demand aspects of energy such as improving efficiency in aviation and infrastructure operations, investing in more energy efficient future systems, and establishing goals and metrics to manage progress. The Air Force was the nation's largest single purchaser of renewable energy in FY05 (approx. one million megawatt-hours in FY05 and FY06), certified the B-52 for fight with a 50/50 blend of synthetic fuel and JP-8 in August 2007, and improved conversion efficiency of fuel to electrical power. Several organizational awards received by the Air Force (2005-2007) included: Green Power Partner of the Year Award -- Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Climate Protection Award -- EPA, Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award -- United Nations Environmental Programme and the EPA, and the overall Presidential Award for Leadership in Federal Energy Management for such achievements as saving 3.3 trillion BTUs in FY06 (enough for 100,000 households). Several energy-related studies have called for action such as the report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy entitled: "Blueprint for Securing America's Energy Future" which stated that "we are at a turning point when it comes to energy. We must find new, viable and clean sources of energy to meet this surge in demand. From aggressively promoting energy efficiency and reducing the environmental impacts of our energy consumption and production, to addressing critical shortages of qualified energy professionals and transforming our transportation sector, there is plenty of work to be done and we must continue to work together to engage our political leadership on the elements of a balanced and comprehensive strategy."

About the Speaker

Dr. Ronald M. Sega holds a B.S. in math and physics from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, an M.S. in physics from Ohio State and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado. Dr. Sega is the Woodward professor of systems engineering at Colorado State and is the V.P. for energy, environment and applied research with Colorado State University Research Foundation. He also serves as special advisor to the Colorado State University president for energy and the environment. Dr. Sega was a faculty member in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU-Colorado Springs, also serving as dean from 1996-2001. He served as technical director of the Laser and Aerospace Mechanics Directorate at F.J. Seiler Research Lab at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and as assistant director of the Space Vacuum Epitaxy Center at University of Houston. He was director, defense research and engineering, and the chief technology officer for the DoD from 2001-2005. He retired from the Air Force Reserve in 2005 after 31 years in the Air Force as a command pilot, having served at Air Force Space Command and as reserve assistant to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. He most recently was the under secretary of the Air Force from 2005-2007. Dr. Sega has authored or co-authored more than 100 technical publications, has served on numerous local, regional and national advisory and governance boards, and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). A former astronaut, he flew aboard Space Shuttles Discovery (1994) and Atlantis (1996). He also led the Air Force team that won the overall Presidential Award for Leadership in Federal Energy Management in 2007.