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Engineering | Center for Negative Carbon Emissions (CNCE)

Klaus Lackner, Ph.D.

Klaus Lackner

Dr. Klaus Lackner is the director of Center for Negative Carbon Emissions and professor at the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University. Lackner’s research interests include closing the carbon cycle by capturing carbon dioxide from the air, carbon sequestration, carbon foot-printing, innovative energy and infrastructure systems and their scaling properties, the role of automation, robotics and mass-manufacturing in downscaling infrastructure systems, and energy and environmental policy.

Lackner’s scientific career started in the phenomenology of weakly interacting particles. Later searching for quarks, he and George Zweig developed the chemistry of atoms with fractional nuclear charge. After joining Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lackner became involved in hydrodynamic work and fusion related research. In recent years, he has published on the behavior of high explosives, novel approaches to inertial confinement fusion, and numerical algorithms.  His interest in self-replicating machine systems has been recognized by Discover Magazine as one of seven ideas that could change the world. Trained as a theoretical physicist, he has made a number of contributions to the field of carbon capture and storage since 1995, including early work on the sequestration of carbon dioxide in silicate minerals and zero emission power plant design. In 1999, he was the first person to suggest the artificial capture of carbon dioxide from air in the context of carbon management. His recent work at Columbia University as Director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy advanced innovative approaches to energy issues of the future and the pursuit of environmentally acceptable technologies for the use of fossil fuels.

2014- Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University
2001-2014 Ewing Worzel Professor of Geophysics, Earth and Environmental Engineering, Columbia University, USA
Department Chair, Earth and Environmental Engineering, Columbia University, USA
2006-present Director of Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy, The Earth Institute, Columbia University, USA
2000- 2002 Theoretical Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory
1998-2000 Chief of Staff, Acting Associate Laboratory Director and Acting Deputy Director,
Associate Laboratory Director’s Office for Strategic and Supporting Research, Los Alamos National Laboratory
1982-1983 Post-Doctoral Researcher, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
1979-1982 Post-Doctoral Researcher, California Institute of Technology
1978-1979 Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of Freiburg, Germany


Ph.D. Physics, Heidelberg University, Germany, 1978.
Theoretical Particle Physics, summa cum laude
Clemm-Haas Prize for outstanding Ph. D. thesis at Heidelberg University
Diplom Physics, Heidelberg University, Germany, 1976.
(Advisors: Professors John Grace and Xiaotao Bi)
Vordiplom Physics, Heidelberg University, Germany, 1975.


1980 Clemm-Haas Prize for outstanding Ph.D. Thesis
1979 – 1980 Max Kade Fellowship, California Institute of Technology
1980 – 1981 Fleischmann Fellow, California Institute of Technology
1991 Weapons Recognition of Excellence Award
1995 – 1996 Los Alamos Science and Engineering Advisory Board (Chair)
1996 – 2001 Member of the Editorial Board of Defense Science
2003 – Earth Institute at Columbia, Steering Committee
2000 – National Energy Technology Center’s Carbon Sequestration Science Steering Committee
2000– 2005 Technical Advisor to the Ohio Coal Development Office
2000 Cofounder of the Zero Emission Coal Alliance
2001 National Laboratory Consortium Award for Technology
2004 Cofounder of Global Research Technologies
2007 Recognized for contributing to the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for the IPCC
2013 American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow


  • Member of a Committee formed by the National Academies on the Future of Coal
  • Participated as a lead author on the IPCC report on Carbon Capture and Storage
  • Head of Working Group II, (Technology Options) for the Global Roundtable on Climate Change.