Leveraging the Fundamentals
The approach of the Resnick Institute’s scientific research program is to fuse bold creativity born from multiple perspectives with fundamental science. Through this lens, we delve into the most perplexing problems in sustainability and are driven to accelerate discovery beneficial to the welfare of all people and the planet.
Renewable energy is at the apex of our research efforts because it is the most significant driver of the planet’s resource issues such as water, food, improved health and livable housing. The global demand for energy is currently 16 terawatts. More than 80 percent of that energy is derived from the combustion of fossil fuels. Our dependence on fossil fuels is not politically or economically stable. In addition, hundreds of years of burning fossil fuels have taken a toll. Levels of planet-warming atmospheric carbon dioxide are the highest in 15 million years. Mercury and sulfur dioxide pollute our air and water. And the global demand for energy is expected to increase to 20 terawatts by 2050. Make a major dent in the supply of the world’s energy demand, provide it from cost-competitive, renewable, carbon-free sources, and we’ll have forged a path for progress in all other resource issues.
Beyond energy, we focus broadly on the science of sustainability. We ask, “what are the scientific principles governing the co-optimization of the health of the planet and its people and the profitability needed to drive change?”
The solutions to the problems we face will require a deep understanding of the fundamentals of science fused with unforeseen innovation. At Caltech we thrive on challenges of this magnitude.