Energy production and use are clearly crucial to the functioning of modern economies and to enhanced quality of life. However, they also drive major environmental problems. The prospect of global warming and climate change driven by greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion presents a particularly difficult challenge. Considerable science and technology development are needed, as well as policies that enable widespread and timely global deployment of key energy technologies.

Robert Jaffe in collaboration with faculty colleagues, postdocs, and students in the MIT Energy Initiative and in MIT's Engineering Systems Division is studying the constraints on the possibility of scaling novel, low carbon energy technologies to high levels of deployment presented by potential shortages of scarce materials known as "energy critical elements".

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