Solar panels that generate hydrogen from water and a toy car with an onboard fuel cell powered by the hydrogen are just some of the pieces of equipment being studied this summer by two students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
August 16, 2002 GENEVA, N.Y.—Two economics majors have been doing research this summer that they hope will illustrate future methods of energy production and usage. Jennifer Rosthal of Houston, Texas, and Jenna Pugliese of Manlius, N.Y., are studying the feasibility of moving toward a hydrogen energy future by experimenting with the energy consumption patterns of a small model fuel cell car. The car is fueled by hydrogen created by splitting water with energy provided by solar. In addition they have been adding the latest energy usage figures into a computer program, all with the expectation of predicting a bit of our energy future.
The young women have been working in the laboratory of Thomas Drennen, professor of economics and noted expert on energy and the environment. Drennen created interactive computer models that explain the relationship between energy use and climate change. Much of the work of Rosthal and Pugliese includes updating the information in these models.
The computer models have been used nationally and internationally. Drennen has presented his models to members of Congress to help analyze various policy options that would aid in limiting global warming, and he's been invited to Washington, D.C., to discuss domestic energy policy and the U.S.'s role in the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
Rosthal, a senior at William Smith College, has been working with Drennen's model that calculates the cost of electricity production based on varying factors. Her work will show the cost competitiveness of some renewable resources once external costs are factored into the cost of electricity generation from sources like coal and natural gas.
Rosthal is the daughter of Richard and Susan Rosthal of Houston. While at Hobart and William Smith, she has been named to Dean’s List, is a member of the William Smith sailing team and has studied abroad in Geneva, Switzerland.
Pugliese, a William Smith junior, is researching a model that analyzes hydrogen as a future fuel and major energy source, and is creating a Web-based game to be inserted into the model. This game will help in the understanding of the model and will be used in classrooms.
Pugliese is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Pugliese of Manlius. She is a tutor on campus, participates in martial arts, works with Student Life and Leadership on campus activities, and has volunteered at the Smith Opera House.
The students’ work is partially funded by the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., and partially aided by the environmental studies program at the Colleges.
Drennen said the work being done this summer is vital to our future. “The work these students are working on will help policy makers understand the various tradeoffs associated with our energy use. A hydrogen-based energy economy offers us a chance to move away from our reliance on fossil fuels and their negative environmental effects.”