ASU alumnus helped build Lionsgate Entertainment into global content powerhouse

March 8, 2017

Editor’s Note: This story is one in a series of profiles of individuals being honored as part of the ASU Alumni Association’s 2017 Founders’ Day celebration on March 16. Visit the Alumni Association’s website to read the entire series.

Michael R. Burns ‘80 B.S. is being honored at Founders’ Day 2017 with the Alumni Achievement Award for his role in building Lionsgate into a multi-billion dollar global content leader. Since becoming vice chairman of Lionsgate Entertainment Corp. in March 2000, he has played an integral role in building the company into a $6 billion operation with a reputation for innovation. He recently helped spearhead Lionsgate’s $4.4 billion acquisition of Starz, the biggest deal in the company’s history, as the studio continues to grow into a diversified global content platform. portrait of michael burns Michael Burns, vice chairman of Lionsgate Entertainment Corp. Download Full Image

Lionsgate’s portfolio of businesses features a film slate that has averaged nearly $2 billion at the box office each of the past four years, driven by the critically acclaimed “La La Land,” which won a record-breaking seven Golden Globes and was nominated for a record-tying 14 Academy Awards, and the blockbuster Hunger Games and Twilight saga franchises. One of the largest independent television businesses in the world, Lionsgate’s television slate encompasses nearly 90 series on 40 different networks, including the ground-breaking “Orange is the New Black,” the fan favorite “Nashville,” the acclaimed drama “The Royals,” the award-winning dramedy “Casual” and the breakout success “Greenleaf.”

In addition to his leadership of Lionsgate’s corporate management team, Burns has played a key role in the acquisition, production, and distribution of some of Lionsgate’s most successful films, including the Academy Award-winning Best Picture “Crash,” the Academy Award-winning “Monster’s Ball” and the Oscar-nominated “Precious.”

Prior to joining Lionsgate, Burns served for nine years as managing director and head of Prudential Securities’ Los Angeles investment banking office and nine years at Shearson/American Express (now Morgan Stanley) in New York and Los Angeles.

Two of ASU’s top academic administrators put Burns’ and Lionsgate Entertainment’s breathtaking achievements into perspective.

Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, said, “Under Burns’ guidance, this one-time small company has gained entrance into the league of major studios like Warner Brothers, Disney, Universal and 20th Century Fox — doing so without a backlot of their own and with a fraction of the employees found at a major media company.”

“Michael Burns exemplifies a leadership style which is on par with our vision for the New American University,” said Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business. “He demonstrates an ambition for innovation rather than a reliance on tradition.”

Burns has been featured in major media outlets from CNBC to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and he is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post and Newsmax. Burns graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University and received his MBA from the John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA, where he serves on the distinguished Board of Visitors. He joined the Hasbro Board of Directors in December 2014.

ASU group developing cost-effective way to trap power plants' carbon dioxide emissions

Professor Dan Buttry and School of Molecular Sciences team describe new methods in article chosen as American Chemical Society 'Editor's Choice'

March 8, 2017

Controlled capture and release of carbon dioxide emitted from power plants represents a potential method for reducing the buildup of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Existing chemical methods for doing so, however, consume large amounts of energy and are not technologically viable.

In a recent perspective article in the journal American Chemical Society Energy Letters, Arizona State University professor Dan Buttry and his group in the School of Molecular Sciences describe new methods that have the potential to reduce these energy costs by more than half. The article was selected for highlighting as an American Chemical Society "Editors Choice" article.  Graduate student Joseph Rheinhardt and Associate Research Scientist Poonam Singh Associate research scientist Poonam Singh and graduate student Joseph Rheinhardt from ASU professor Dan Buttry's research group. Download Full Image

Buttry, graduate student Joseph Rheinhardt, associate research scientist Poonam Singh and associate research professor Pilarisetty Tarakeshwar are developing efficient and cost-effective carbon capture technologies that use innovative electrochemical techniques to separate the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from other emissions from power plants. Trapping carbon dioxide this way allows it to be collected for transportation and/or burial or permanent sequestration, in order to prevent its accumulation in the atmosphere.

A new approach

"The effort is focused on a key issue in fossil fuel-based energy production — how to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions without consuming too much of the energy content of the fuel,” said Buttry. "We have recently developed a new approach to carbon dioxide capture that uses an electrochemical process with some design features similar to those in a fuel cell.”

Understanding the chemistry of carbon dioxide is key to controlling its release into the atmosphere. Most carbon dioxide capture methods involve thermal cycles in which a specially designed chemical agent removes carbon dioxide from impure gas streams (e.g., power station flue gas), followed by second thermal chemical reaction in which the captured carbon dioxide is released in pure form.

Plant scale demonstrations based on this technology use compounds called amines as the trapping agents in the so-called monoethanolamine (MEA) process. The MEA process has several drawbacks; specifically, the energy required for the thermal release of the captured carbon dioxide. As discussed in a recent Department of Energy report (DOE/NETL-2009/1366), the energy required for the release process consumes roughly 40 percent of total plant output, and increases the cost of electricity by 85 percent.

In the published article in ACS Energy Letters, the Buttry group describes a different strategy based on electrochemical cycles to capture and release carbon dioxide. These cycles rely on electrochemical generation of the chemical trapping agent. The carbon dioxide is subsequently released in pure form in a second electrochemical step.In the article in Energy Letters, Buttry et al. describe different examples of this new electrochemical cycle for carbon dioxide capture and release, and the advantages and disadvantages inherent in this general approach: "Electrochemical Capture and Release of Carbon Dioxide" ACS Energy Lett., 2017, 2(2), pp 454–461: DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.6b00608.

Where solutions happen

The School of Molecular Sciences and Arizona State University has been building its portfolio in alternative energy research for several years, and currently includes among its capabilities a center for research into electrochemical approaches for renewable energy applications; several advanced programs on photosynthesis and solar energy research; one of the leading testing and certification centers for solar energy; and research into solar-generated biofuels, including advanced work on algae-based biofuels:

Jenny Green

Clinical associate professor, School of Molecular Sciences