2010 March 4: NJ Livingston, Rutgers: Professor puts energy into alternative fuel

2010 March 4: NJ Livingston, Rutgers: Professor puts energy into alternative fuel

By Vaibhavi Shah

Contributing Writer

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Published: Thursday, March 4, 2010

Updated: Thursday, March 4, 2010

Livingston campus’ solar farm is not the only green initiative growing on campus.
Monica Mazurek, a University chemist and professor, is designing a hydrogen-generating facility that will be linked to the farm.
Funded by the University’s Academic Excellence Fund for 2009, this would be the first illustration of using green hydrogen curated by solar voltaic energy collections, a completely pollution-free process, Mazurek said.
Energy transformed by the grid would be converted to hydrogen gas and connected to a refueling system that will be used to power the next generation of hydrogen-fueled vehicles, she said.
By building such a facility, the University could have great economic benefits, Mazurek said. Major car companies will loan out test vehicles to any organization that has a hydrogen-refueling facility.
The University can make use of such an opportunity to move ahead in shifting from petroleum fossil fuels to renewable fuels, she said. Without renewable fuels and a transportation system or vehicles to use them, the state faces a dismal economic future, Mazurek said.
“New Jersey is a transportation state, we are a transportation corridor, so our economy is linked to transportation,” she said.
The country is faced with the conundrum of having hydrogen-fueled vehicles, but not having any refueling facilities, Mazurek said.
“It’s like the chicken and the egg, both of these have to develop at the same time, and that’s what happened 100 years ago,” she said. “We can’t expect alternative fuels to be widely used unless we can get this infrastructure constructed, which is what we’re trying to design here at Rutgers.”
Though switching to alternative fuels would be more environmentally friendly and cost efficient, businesses are reluctant to adopt such practices because it can be a disruptive technology, Mazurek said.
“If we are improving air quality, that’s even better. If we’re helping businesses become more sustainable then that’s excellent,” she said. “If we are bringing in businesses because our energy prices and transportation infrastructure is state of the art, that will accommodate alternative fuel vehicles, that’s where we should be heading.”
Mazurek also suggested changes that could be made to the University bus system.
The 44 buses travel more than one million miles annually, generating an abundance of diesel particulate matter, she said. The University could ask Academy buses, the company from which it leases its buses, to buy E-buses, which are fueled by hydrogen.
This would be cost-efficient and also improve the air quality on campus, Mazurek said.
“If I were to put my air quality monitors out there, I’m sure we would find that we’re not meeting air quality standards,” she said. “Students stand right where the exhaust affluence would be.”
Waiting for governments to come to some accord regarding air pollution and alternative fuels may not be the long-run successful strategy, Mazurek said. Instead, grassroots organizations would ultimately make the difference.
One example is implementing the 2-percent solution, which suggests overall emissions can be reduced by 80 percent by 2050 if every individual could cut their carbon emissions by 2 percent every year, she said.
“Sustainability can begin at the individual level,” Mazurek said.
Mazurek dedicated the last 30 years to studying pollute particles in urban atmospheres and developing technology to apportion such matter based on molecular markers, colored coating being the molecular marker.
She describes pollute particles as M&Ms in the atmosphere. The colors are figuratively washed off, quantified and named.
In her research, she observed more than 100 different compounds in the atmosphere of metropolitan New York.
Her findings pinpointed three major sources of pollute particles: motor vehicle exhaust, commercial cooking and residential heating, the latter two being unregulated.
For example, in restaurants, foods fried in deep fat such as French fries, chicken nuggets and donuts, release oily fumes into the atmosphere that people breathe daily, Mazurek said.
“We can say that people not only eat cholesterol but we can also breathe it in as particulate material,” she said.
Mazurek is concerned with carbon-containing material in the atmosphere that leads to poor air quality and ill health effects such as childhood asthma and cardiovascular problems in adults.
Urban areas are particularly important places to study since so many people live in such short distance from major transportation corridors, she said. Childhood asthma, cardiovascular disease and lung cancer is more evident in urban populations and those that live close to transportation networks.
“Our state is basically used as a dumping ground for vehicle transportation, on-road and off-road,” Mazurek said. “The citizens of this state, especially those living in highly-trafficked areas, are breathing high levels of particulate matter.”
A third of her research involves alternative fuels and transportation infrastructure studies.
Some students feel air cleanliness is an important issue that has not been properly addressed.
“University students should care about these issues since it affects their health,” said Samantha Mitchell, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student.
On the other hand, students acknowledge there is an apathetic attitude that exists among young adults
“We are lazy and don’t see the immediate consequences,” said Yvonne Cha, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student.
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This entry was posted in N ("New") States = NH, NJ, NM, NY = New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York. Bookmark the permalink.

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