Tom Drennen, professor of economics and chair of the environmental studies program, was a panelist at a symposium, “Energy for the 21st Century,” held at the University of Rochester, in October. Drennen discussed “The Economic and Environmental Tradeoffs of Alternative Liquid Fuels.”
As a senior economist for Sandia National Laboratories, Drennen has developed Alternative Liquid Fuels Simulation (ALTSim) Biofuels Model. The high-level dynamic simulation model measures the effects of alternative fuels including corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, soy-based biodiesel, and diesels derived from natural gas and coal. A key goal of the model is to help policy makers understand the economic viability, sustainability and current feasibility of various liquid transportation fuels. ALTSim allows analysis of sensitivity of key outputs, including production costs, CO2 emissions, and energy balance, to user-defined variance of inputs: capital costs, operation and maintenance costs, renewable and fossil fuel feedstock costs, feedstock conversion efficiency, financial assumptions, tax credits, CO2 taxes, and plant capacity factor.
A member of the HWS faculty since 1995, Drennen earned a B.S. in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.A. in public affairs from the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in resource economics from Cornell University. In 2006, he received the Hobart and William Smith Excellence in Teaching Award. Drennen is also the author of a book, “Pathways to a Hydrogen Future,” which seeks to untangle competing visions of a hydrogen economy.