Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ConE Green Fellowship: Evaluating the Impacts of Health and Energy due to Increased Fracking Activities

By Lauren Kirkwood

For the second year, the Council on the Environment sponsored a second Green Fellowship to be given to the runners-up of the Green Fund competition.

This year, the recipients of that award are two graduate students  who plan to combine their expertise in the fields of chemical engineering and atmospheric and oceanic sciences to analyze the impact on human

 health that stems from changes in air quality due to increased use of natural gas.

Tim Vinciguerra, a chemical engineering student, and Linda Hembeck, an AOSC student, will focus their research on the eastern U.S. in the year 2020, and attempt to “weigh the benefits of burning cleaner natural gas instead of coal in power plants against the increased pollution created by fracking operations to obtain that natural gas supply.”

After hearing about the Green Fund last year, Vinciguerra and Hembeck submitted a proposal but were not selected. This year, the two students decided to tackle a current issue and base their proposal on “a more intriguing topic” that has huge implications for the environment.

Through their research, Hembeck and Vinciguerra will investigate how changing the fuel sources that power modern electronic devices, as well as cool and heat homes, can affect the mixture of critical pollutants in the atmosphere, resulting in different environmental effects.

 By combining their knowledge and skills, Vinciguerra and Hembeck said they will be able to  produce a more comprehensive project, which will involve a complete analysis of the  benefits of changing technologies, and result in scientific findings that are directly relevant  to public policy. The project will use engineering concepts, such as energy and technology  advances, to observe effects on climate, air quality and health, which are important  components of atmospheric science study.