Instead of the lead banner being "Understanding & Mitigating Risks" to "Mitigating Risks, Optimizing Value"
Our team of scientists will employ state-of-the-art material informatics programs, computer science and predictive analytics to accelerate the discovery and application of production materials that are safer, renewable and more abundant. CoRE will also leverage green chemistry and chemical management tools like the Chemical Footprint Project and the Green Screen for Safer Chemicals that we have developed in collaboration with leaders in the electronics sector — including Apple, HP and Seagate.
By using data-driven approaches and predictive analytics in every aspect of our work, we can quickly and efficiently provide new ideas for solving some of the most pressing challenges in the solar industry.
A Science-Based Approach
Whether we are conducting research in one of our state-of-the-art materials labs, or engaging with community leaders, we will use scientific methods and principles to advance our goals. For example, our team will:
- Utilize data from multiple disciplines
- Promote transparency, education and scientific literacy
- Build representative networks that include all key stakeholders
- Partner with industry to address issues quickly and efficiently
- Co-create solutions and validate them through pilot projects
- Expand the use of the most effective solutions
- Use scientific methods to assess whether the interventions worked, and the reasons for their success or failure
Mitigating The Risks, Optimizing Value, Safely and Responsibly
In the past, studies of the solar industry were primarily retrospective and forensic in nature. They provided information on the impact of manufacturing and processing strategies after the fact, but they did little to explain the underlying causes of the problem. While this historical approach can help remediate the issues that already exist, it only focuses on the symptoms of the issue, rather than the root cause.
At CoRE, we plan to address risks in the solar industry by examining the entire life-cycle, especially at the beginning stages of solar panel production. For example, if there are higher levels of groundwater contamination surrounding solar panel factories, we want to find out what manufacturers can do from the beginning to eliminate pollution, rather than simply clean it up afterwards. These steps may include:
- Reducing the use of toxic chemicals by finding less toxic replacement materials
- Finding ways to use less material in order to reduce the impact of manufacturing, shipping and recycling solar panels
- Streamlining the supply chain to minimize the impact of transportation, which reduces the carbon footprint and the amount of hazardous goods transported through vulnerable communities
- Finding localized solutions to problems involving pollution and other byproducts of manufacturing
- Defining solar procurement specifications that promote a regenerative economy by addressing the total impact of solar panel manufacturing on a community’s environment, health and poverty level
- Helping manufacturers by building sustainable supply chains, improving investor relations and ensuring access to global markets
Leveraging Tools Used by Fortune 500 Companies
Some of the largest companies in the world — including Apple, Walmart and HP — are already using advanced tools and resources to reduce their negative impact on the environment and communities. These standardized tools provide a common language and framework, improve engagement, and allow stakeholders to measure progress.
At CoRE, we plan to use many of these same resources, including:
- GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals - a globally recognized tool that identifies hazardous chemicals and safer alternatives
- Chemical Footprint Project - provides a score for products and organizations based on the total mass of chemicals of high concern (CoHCs) in their products, manufacturing operations, supply chains and packaging
- BizNGO - a unique collaboration of business and environmental leaders working to advance healthy materials and a safer chemicals economy
At CoRE, we are able to conduct computer simulations at molecular levels. Here, you can see a simulation of the molecular dynamics involved when a CO2 molecule reacts with nickel.
In a reactive collision process, one bond is broken and the other intact.
In a non-reactive collision process, after the CO2 molecule adsorbed on the Ni site, both C-O bonds remain intact.
Each year, we will bring science and technology leaders together to advance solutions that support development of the solar industry in industrial communities like Buffalo.
Who Is Addressing The Risks?
Given the size of the solar industry — and the pace at which companies innovate — current regulatory systems are not enough to address the risks involving toxic chemicals, harmful manufacturing processes and new materials. Local governments often don’t have the expertise or resources needed to mitigate potential environmental effects (including air pollution and groundwater contamination) and ensure worker safety. Ultimately, our goal is to identify key points where we can have meaningful interventions that will minimize or eliminate future problems.