Earth and Mineral Sciences

Penn State alumnus William Woodford to receive the David Ford McFarland Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The 2020 David Ford McFarland Award for Achievement in Metallurgy lecture will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, via Zoom. William Woodford, co-founder and chief technology officer of Form Energy, will deliver the lecture “The Critical Role of Materials in Global Decarbonization” and receive the 2020 McFarland Award.

Woodford’s lecture will focus on how climate change is transforming the planet and how its impacts are increasingly being felt. Stopping these impacts requires collective action to develop, scale and deploy an array of new technologies to dramatically reduce net carbon emissions. This requires a fundamental transformation of the global economy, Woodford said.

“Even with the materials-enabled innovations in photovoltaics, batteries and power electronics taking off and enabling rapid decarbonization of electricity generation and the transportation sectors, these innovations are not enough,” Woodford said. “When fully scaled, these improvements will represent only about half of the needed change.”

During the McFarland lecture, Woodford will discuss how deep decarbonization presents an  opportunity to fundamentally reinvent materials processing, from mining and refining to final processing, across a wide range of low-tech and high-tech applications.

Woodford’s talk will highlight some of the key challenges, early successes and white spaces for new opportunities around impact-driven technology development geared at the reinvention of our global materials value chain. 

Form Energy, a startup company, is developing and commercializing ultra-low-cost, long-duration energy storage systems that can be located in any market and scaled to match existing energy generation infrastructure globally. These systems have the capability to reshape the electric system, making renewables fully firm and dispatchable year round, extending transmission capacity without building new wires, and completely replacing the need for conventional thermal generation.

Prior to Form Energy, Woodford was director of advanced research and development at 24M Technologies, where his team focused on low-cost automotive and grid storage Li-ion development, as well as high-energy density Li-metal based cell technologies. In 2018, he was recognized with Technology Review's TR35 award, as one of the top 35 innovators under the age of 35.

Woodford earned his his bachelor of science from Penn State and his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in materials science and engineering.

The David Ford McFarland Award for Achievement in Metallurgy was established in 1948 by the Penn State Chapter of the American Society for Metals (now ASM International) to honor graduates of Penn State who have honorably distinguished themselves in some field of metallurgy. The award was named in honor of David Ford McFarland—former professor and department head.

William Woodford will receive the 2020 David Ford McFarland Award and deliver the McFarland lecture Thursday, Nov. 5, via Zoom. Credit: Penn State / Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated October 27, 2020