Conversation with Alumnus to Focus on Vision for Helping Two Billion People

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Priti and Mukesh Chatter to discuss the need for increased access to clean water and clean energy

By Torie Wells

Mukesh Chatter ’82 and his wife, Priti Chatter, have an ambitious goal. They are working to meaningfully improve lives — and not just for a few people. The Chatters want to change the lives of two billion people in the developing world.

This vision will be the focus of public discussion with the Chatters as part of a series titled Conversations with Leaders hosted by the School of Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. This conversation will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, October 18, in the Bruggeman Room within the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies.

The event will focus on the need for technological developments in the areas of clean water and clean energy, which the Chatters see as critical to the future.

“In 2019, clean water and clean energy remain among the largest global challenges we face,” Chatter said. “What we need, in order to vastly improve lives, are approaches that are both affordable and robust, which will bring about a transformative change.”

In order to make that possible, the Chatters provided financial support for research in the areas of clean energy and clean water at Rensselaer, including the establishment of two Priti and Mukesh Chatter Endowed Career Development Chairs.

These chairs enabled the School of Engineering to recruit two outstanding rising stars: Miao Yu, in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, whose research focuses on the development of advanced nanomaterials for energy and environmental applications like carbon capture technologies, and Fudong Han, in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering, whose research focuses on building safe and energy dense batteries for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage.

“The Chatters’ vision is inspiring and resonates with our focus at Rensselaer on solving global challenges,” said Shekhar Garde, the dean of the School of Engineering. “We are grateful for their support and for this incredible opportunity to speak with them in person about this shared passion.”

On Saturday, October 19, Han, an assistant professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering, will be recognized at the Honors Convocation — an annual event celebrating the achievements of students and faculty at Rensselaer — for his appointment as the second Chatter Career Development Chair.

Han’s work in energy storage is aimed at developing better batteries that can be used for clean and safe energy storage. More specifically, he is interested in understanding the fundamental science of battery materials to identify and address key challenges for developing solid-state batteries that are safer and more energy dense than batteries made with flammable liquid electrolytes. Solid-state batteries, he said, could vastly improve operation of electronic devices, electric vehicles, and storage for renewable energies like solar and wind with significantly reduced carbon dioxide emission.

“We basically have two main goals. One is to develop reliable and cost-effective storage for the smart grid; the second is to develop high power, high energy density batteries for electric vehicles,” Han said.

“Professor Yu’s and Professor Han’s research has the potential to not only increase access to clean water and energy across the globe, but also contribute to improving our climate,” Garde said.