Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Just One Question (Part 1): What Energy or Climate-Related Work Are You Doing?

Sunlight through trees

I am the oldest member and former president of The Economic Round Table of Los Angeles. This is a group of prominent executives who meet once a week to discuss world affairs and economics. My talk on energy was an urgent warning that we need to do something now since nuclear, clean coal, solar, and all the other forms of energy take years to put into place. Also, well-meaning citizens are preventing us from using all the gas and petroleum resources we have on this continent.
– Henry C. Keck ’43 Th’44 Tu’44

I am retired but retain a keen interest in energy issues, particularly petroleum consumption. I have been writing on this subject for a local newspaper on occasion. I am convinced that major inroads on the problem await our adoption of electric motor drives for highway vehicles energized with rechargeable batteries off the grid. There have been multiple demonstrations that this is commercially ready and will yield 100-plus miles per gallon. I don’t think the hydrogen route will ever be commercialized. I think ethanol is ill suited as a major energy source. We should redirect our engineering resources to expand wind farms, cost-reduce solar systems, and clean up coal-fired steam generators.
– Richard D. Livingston ’43 Th’44

I am the CEO of Angeli Parvi, a nonprofit dedicated to entrepreneurship at Dartmouth. We just invested $200,000 in Advanced Transit Dynamics, which has developed a clever airfoil to attach on the rear of large trailers. This improves the aerodynamics sufficiently to improve gas mileage by approximately six percent. ATD’s founder is Andrew Smith Tu’07, and the two leading technologists are Thayer graduates Chuck Horrell ’00 Th’01 and Jeffrey Grossmann ’06 Th’07. Thus far execution has been excellent, and we can reasonably expect good financial and good environmental and energy performance.
– John Ballard ’55 Th’56 Tu’56

My main focus, vocationally and avocationally, has been on alternative energy since the late 1970s. The list of my activities includes: consulting to cities to install waste-to-energy plants, developing a 3-megawatt landfill gas power project, and writing several reports for the EPA’s Coalbed Methane Outreach Program (upgrading coal mine methane to pipeline standards, and capturing and using ventilation air methane for power production). Currently I am part of a startup renewable energy cooperative in Addison County, Vt., that hopes to establish a biodiesel production business. My wife and I burn wood from our woodlots – more than 10 cords a year – to heat our 4,600-square-foot home, and we installed two solar collectors for hot water.
– Peter Carothers ’57 Th’60 Tu’60

Our firm, Mohr, Davidow Ventures in Menlo Park, Calif., is a leading investors in alternative energy early stage companies. I am supporting environmental research, much of which focuses on climate change.
– William Davidow ’57 Th’58

I am an independent consultant who works with companies to help them be more sustainable. I deal primarily with the prudent use of energy. I also teach courses on sustainable business practices in the M.B.A. program at Ohio State; I started that in 2004 and had 15 students. This year I have 70 students. Topics covered include the status of fossil energy, alternate energy technologies, and climate change. Interest in these topics demonstrated by future business leaders is phenomenal.
– Neil Drobny ’62 Th’64

Until I retired three years ago, I worked for 38 years in the nuclear power industry – nuclear fuel manufacturing primarily – for both General Electric and Westinghouse Electric. I have not been involved other than reading the news about nuclear energy or energy in general since I retired.
– Rhod Hawk ’62

I am the general manager of Southwestern Drilling Co., a small, privately held company that leases equipment and crews to large and small oil and gas exploration companies. Our work has been concentrated on drilling for natural gas. I have 37 years experience in providing such services for the domestic oil and gas industry. As a result, I doubt very much whether Dartmouth would have any interest in hearing what I have to say, as most academicians believe I work in an industry that wants to intentionally ruin our world. They tend to believe the solution is a combination of riding bikes to work each day, having windmills on every square inch of the U.S., and using every available arable acre to grow corn for ethanol subsidized by my taxes. Surely I’d be dismissed as a polluting kook!
– Richard Zartler ’62 Th’63

The thermoeconomics course taught by Dean Myron Tribus during the mid-1960s – with its emphasis on balancing economic, energy, and resource factors in making decisions – was well ahead of its time. Would that all managers and engineers have had the course and lived up to its principles. The world would be a different place by now.
– Steve Brenner ’63 Th’64

Fafco, where I am president and CEO, is the oldest and largest solar thermal panel manufacturer in the U.S. Recently we introduced the next-generation, all-polymer solar hot water heating system, which we developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy during the last 10 years. The neat thing about the recent introduction is that the entre system comes in a box, which can be shipped for $50 and which, when installed, will do up to half the hot water heating requirement.
– Freeman Ford ’63

In 1997 I bumped into an article in the London Financial Times that described the redistribution of the old Soviet oilfields. As a result I invested in Canadian oil companies that acquired obscure fields in Kazakhstan. For years then, I read everything I could find that hedged my risk in oil. Hubbert’s Peak by Ken Deffeyes opened a vista into a future with ever more expensive oil and seemed to vindicate my positions. I made a bundle. Now I follow the geophysicists who believe that oil production has or will soon have peaked forever. Were I younger I would be obsessive about inventing alternative energy sources. Hybrid fission/fusion?

America and the developed countries have designed a world for themselves in which oil is essential. Suburbs, interstates, air travel, fresh produce, human mobility, large warm houses in the north, and large cool houses in the south all require cheap energy. How do we fuel the transition from this lifestyle to a new lifestyle? Can Thayer create graduates who can engineer new global behaviors integrated with new machines?
– Bob Prescott ’64 Th’67

I am on the other end of the spectrum: The airplane I am working on (as systems engineer) has big huge engines that drive it to speeds way over 1,000 mph. The only energy savings thing about it is that instead of the 500- and 1,000-pound bombs that I used in combat, this plane drops 250-pound bombs. Supposedly they are so accurate that they do more damage than those old ones. In a fight with another aircraft, our F-22 supposedly can see them before being seen and launch a missile for a kill. This saves fuel because there’s no churning and burning dogfight.
– Ward Hindman ’65 Th’68

I’m CEO of a commercial plumbing and HVAC contractor in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. We routinely deal with green buildings, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, building energy conservation, and system efficiencies. Our niche is in a micro-environment rather than big-picture systems. In the early 1980s I owned a solar installation company that failed when oil prices dropped in the mid-1980s. The foreign oil cartel always has the ability to bankrupt alternative energy sources by reducing the cost of oil, destroying their economic viability.
– Harry Santangelo ’66

I am working on an adsorbent to remove NOx, SOx, and Hg from stack gas in coal-fired power plants and other similar applications. Unfortunately, the market is not very strong and way too many utilities have jumped behind the CO2 hype and nearly everyone has forgotten about mercury. Of course they know that CO2 is an impossible task and probably just a natural cycle, but it does allow them to do nothing now.
– D. Dean Spatz ’66 Th’67

I spent the first decade after graduation working on major energy policy in Washington, D.C. Remember the Ford Administration Energy Policy Statement of 1976? Even back then it was obvious that action was urgently needed to avert a major crisis. The solution was to phase out fossil fuel consumption with a combination of conservation, renewable energy and nuclear power. Unfortunately, the political will and leadership to make these necessary changes was lacking. Consequently, we have spent the last 35 years going in the wrong direction. I hope it is not too late to make up for lost time. I am now a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Maryland. I was inspired to go into this field by Prof. Graham Wallis.
– Richard A. Livingston ’68 Th’69

One start-up company in which I am involved, Sanderson Engine Co., is developing a new way to convert reciprocating motion to circular motion, which appears to have great benefit in improved efficiencies and emissions. The technology applies to all engines, pumps, and compressors, and one potential application would make the generation of wind power more practical. I am an investor in this initiative and have provided some consulting from time to time. They are currently in talks with some very well-known companies that have large applications for this technology.
– Bill Holekamp ’70

I’m working on a real estate development project, Forge Village in Westford, Mass. It’s a conversion of a group of mill buildings from industrial to residential use. The energy aspect of the project is twofold: the heating system will take heat out of canal water rather than burning fossil fuels, and the old hydroelectric generator will use water flow to generate electricity.
– Chris Yule ’70

We had discussions back in 1973 at Thayer bemoaning our dependence on imported oil and the growth rate of oil consumption. At that time we were advocating investment into fusion energy as the only real alternative, even to the point of a program not unlike that of John Kennedy’s landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Too bad it never happened. I would love to see something along this line: A truly “pollution free” solution (ignoring heat, but that’s another issue) with potential for unlimited energy supply. It beats all the others, including wind, solar, and geothermal!
– Jim Bartlett ’72 Th’73

A significant portion of my consulting business is directed at alternate energy sources and strategies, hydrogen systems, including vehicles, and CO2 sequestration.
– John Boyle ’73 Th’79

I am working with the Alberta Oil Sands, the largest reserve that exists in the world after Saudi Arabia. There are 177 billions barrels of oil that are recoverable using existing technology. There are issues with carbon capture and sequestration and with efficiencies.
– Dennis Dembicki ’73

I have had some interesting dialog with the California Coastal Commission (CCC) and Sierra Club regarding the effects that global warming is supposedly having on the location of the Mean High Tide Line (MHTL) in front of our resort, La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. Both want to take away our private beach on the theory that ocean waters are rising. There are many physical observations that contradict the Sierra Club’s theory. There is now a technology that allows determination of the MHTL by flying over an area with radar-sensing instruments. The resulting data can be converted to a line on a map that shows the MHTL at the time of the flyover. Readings are routinely taken twice a year, and there are now multiple years of data available. We are contemplating a project to determine our “ecological footprint” on our community.
– Bill Kellogg ’73

I work with a group within JPMorgan that invests in alternative energy as well as conventional electrical generation and oil and gas production. We are one of the largest tax equity investors in wind power with investments in more than 44 wind farms in the United States and the largest operating solar power plant built in the last 15 years. Climate change issues affect almost everything that we do.
– Geoffrey Bratton ’74 Th’78

I am a partner in Konover Construction Corp. in Farmington, Conn., and Columbia, Md. We are a full-service construction organization providing design/build, preconstruction, construction manager, general contracting, and owner’s rep services across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Our work-in-place volume for 2007 was about $350 million. Sustainable design practices are in high gear in the construction industry. Konover has two LEED “basic” projects that have achieved certification, and we are involved in several others large projects seeking “silver” certification. But many of our other projects incorporate sustainable design elements/practices without seeking certification.
– Simon Etzel ’74 Th’75

I do work on battery life optimization for cell phones at Motorola.
– Wayne Ballantyne ’77 Th’78

Since completing my graduate degree at MIT, I have been working at Chevron for the last 25-plus years, recently focusing on developing natural gas in West Africa for the North American and European markets. Since 2005 I have been involved with the Olokola Liquefied Natural Gas Project (OKLNG). OKLNG is joint venture enterprise that plans to build a multi-train liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on the coast of Nigeria and export LNG, propane and butane, and stabilized condensate (a light hydrocarbon liquid used as a refinery or petrochemical feedstock). The overall project will involve development of new offshore and onshore gas production fields, large-diameter gas transport pipelines, the LNG process plant, and a marine export terminal. OKLNG will build, own, and operate the LNG facilities, which will be located in an area of Nigeria that has no industrial infrastructure at present. It will be a multi-billion dollar investment. I was first assigned as the manager of planning and integration for the joint venture project team. Over the last few years I’ve served as Chevron’s OKLNG project coordinator, reviewing the work on concept selection, front-end engineering, contracting strategy, and development planning. My work on OKLNG has meant frequent travel between the U.S., London (where the project team has been located since late 2005), and Nigeria. As a result, earlier this year I relocated to London to be able to work more closely with the project team, communicate with the other shareholder companies, and reduce the amount of time I am spending on airplanes.
– Will Fraizer ’78

I work directly with energy issues on a global basis as president of the drilling and evaluation division of Halliburton. The fundamental issue is that worldwide energy demand is growing at a fast rate, supply is no longer able to keep pace, and there is not sufficient investment in new sources of conventional or alternative energy.
– Cris Gaut ’78

I work for Butler Manufacturing Co., a subsidiary of BlueScope Steel, an international steel solutions company, in its Kansas City, Mo., office. We make steel or metal buildings that are used for everything from the quintessential farms shop to warehouses to facilities like the new indoor track facility at Tufts University in Massachusetts. While mostly misunderstood and suffering from a “tin can” image, most people have overlooked some basic facts about steel buildings. Our LEED data sheets demonstrate that 30 to 75 percent of our raw material is comprised of recycled steel and our finished product is easily designed for deconstruction and recycling. Also, the company earned a Green Globe Award in 2006 for investing more than $20 million to recycle wastewater and use it in steel production, saving millions of gallons of fresh water daily in an area of Australia that has suffered from severe drought for more than 10 years.
– Ron Miller Th’79 Tu’79

ENERGY TO GO: Dave Wolff ’79 sells Proton Energy Systems electrolysis equipment for making hydrogen.  Photo courtesy of Dave Wolff
ENERGY TO GO: Dave Wolff ’79 sells Proton Energy Systems electrolysis equipment for making hydrogen. Photo courtesy of Dave Wolff ’79

I sell on-site electrolysis equipment for Proton Energy Systems that is used to make hydrogen for applications such as hydrogen fueling.
– Dave Wolff ’79

As a professor of Earth and planetary science at Berkeley I have been working on climate change impacts on hydrologic systems. I am also currently the director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow, and Landscape Research, where we do a lot of work on wood energy resources and forests as CO2 sinks, as well as on climate change effects on ecosystems and natural hazards (floods, avalanches, etc.).
– James Kirchner ’80 Th’83

I’m working at Burns & McDonnell, an international engineering, architecture, and consulting firm based in Kansas City, Mo. My consulting projects revolve around public “sustainability reporting,” helping clients (many of them in the utility field) explain their actions/plans related to energy. Here’s a random sample of what we’re working on across this industry: transmission (especially for wind), infrastructure development, pollution control (coal plants), greenhouse gas inventories, combined heat and power plants, energy performance contracts, exploring biofuels, wetlands design and rehabilitation, geological consulting, and green building (LEED) facilities for aviation and health care.
– Steve Murphy ’80

I run a strategic marketing team for Autodesk, which makes software used for designing buildings. Our most advanced software is in building information modeling (BIM), a category we pioneered in the early 2000s. BIM is an integrated workflow built on coordinated, reliable information about a project from design through construction and into operations. By adopting BIM, architects, engineers, contractors and owners can easily create coordinated, digital design information and documentation; use that information to accurately predict performance, appearance, and cost; and reliably deliver the project faster, more economically, and with reduced environmental impact. I am responsible for an initiative to support sustainable design through our software by making the environmental impacts of the building design more available to the designer earlier in the design process, when small design decisions can have a big impact.
– Richard Rundell ’80

My environmental engineering major continues to help in my work as an environmental litigator at the U.S. Department of Justice. We are seeing more and more climate change cases, including a recent U.S. Supreme Court case interpreting the Clean Air Act.
– Jim Payne ’81

I work for a consulting firm specializing in energy and environmental policy analysis, OnLocation Inc., in the Washington, D.C., area. We build, maintain, and run a variety of computer models to examine potential energy trends, impacts of proposed government policies, and the associated financial and economic impacts of energy-related investment decisions. Currently, the key areas of interest are potential climate change legislation to limit emissions of greenhouse gases, policies to reduce oil consumption and imports, and impacts of R&D programs. Our clients include the Department of Energy, EPA, several non-governmental organizations and foundations, and various corporations.
– Frances Wood ’81

This is what I am doing with respect to energy: founder and executive committee member of the New England Clean Energy Council; founder and president of the Massachusetts Hydrogen Coalition; co-host of the annual Conference on Clean Energy; president of Velerity Management Consulting, consultant to energy-related companies; and founder and CEO of Blue Sky Green Planet, a development-stage company focused on helping consumers reduce their carbon footprint.
– Brad Bradshaw ’82

In my work at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the federally designated metropolitan planning organization for the 5.5 million-plus population of the greater Philadelphia region, I am managing our newly established climate change initiatives program area. Our most recent task is to prepare a regional greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, working with the Environmental Protection Agency with the intent of using our work to develop a standard protocol for metropolitan areas to carry out such inventories. During the next year I’ll be leading the development of a regional GHG reduction action plan for greater Philadelphia. I’m also involved on the board of the region’s Smart Energy Initiative, which is working to build the green energy sector in our region. I’m speaking to planning graduate students at UPenn on these issues, as well as to the American Bar Assocation’s environmental group and to the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Professionals. I’m working with our transportation modelers and those putting together our 2035 long-range plan to evaluate the energy implications of various land use and transportation infrastructure scenarios. I also serve on the climate change/GHG-reduction task forces in two counties and one municipality (Haverford Township).
– Robert Graff ’82

I have recently become very involved in renewable energy through the installation of a photovoltaic solar system at my home in Kennebunk, Maine. What is unique about this system is that it not only produces electricity (rated at 4.4 kilowatts) but also captures the thermal energy absorbed by the photovoltaic panels. In fact, by cooling the array and removing heat energy from the PV solar cells, the electrical production is increased as the photovoltaic cells are cooled. It has been a very gratifying project. Not only do I receive electrical power from the sun, but I also get space heating in the winter with pre-heated fresh air and hot water heating. In the summer my pool is now using the sun to extend the season rather than propane. My home is one of six test locations around the country using this system. It is my firm belief that distributed energy production is a significant part of the solution to the global energy problem. This project has been a lot of fun, as I handled most of the installation myself with some help from some expert roofers and a plumber. My array was the first in my local power district to tie into the grid, which was an education in itself for the local power company.
– Art LeBlanc ’82 Th’84

As a private equity investor since 1990, I have had the opportunity to be involved with investments in a number of exciting alternative energy technology companies, including fuel cells, advanced batteries, solar cells, superconducting magnetic energy storage rings, advanced flywheels, lighting ballast technologies, and energy service companies. I have also invested in process software to manage petrochemical plants to make them run more efficiently. I recently invested in an energy trading and risk management company called Allegro that helps large users of energy manage their energy costs and physical inventory of energy products. For the last eight years I have been on the board of Veeco Instruments, a leading manufacturer of a wide range of process equipment used in the manufacture of solar cells and LEDs. As the world moves toward LEDs for general lighting applications, Veeco will be at the forefront of manufacturing technology. I recently started a new private equity firm called North Bridge Growth Equity, which focuses on investing in private companies in technology and technology-enabled industries, including energy-efficient technology. We are affiliated with North Bridge Venture Partners, a leading early-stage venture capital fund. One of North Bridge Venture Partners’ most interesting investments is an advanced battery company called A123, which uses nanotechnology to create the next generation of lithium ion technology. Applications include hybrid vehicles, power tools, aviation, backup power to replace lead acid, and the military. It is an indisputable fact that the United States currently leads the world in developing green technologies and will continue to do so into the indefinite future. This fact is grounded in both the ingenuity and profit motive of American business. We are not going to solve the environmental and energy challenges of the next 50 years by nonsensical initiatives such as carbon offsets. Rather, we are going to continue to raise the standard of living of all people on earth by developing innovative technologies that increase energy efficiency, decrease the need for oil, and create less pollution. I hope I can play a small part in that ongoing process.
– Doug Kingsley ’84, Th’85

I am president of Accuware, a software development company with five employees and additional contractors overseas. We have developed a software solution for EPV Solar to interface its solar panel testing equipment with its packaging/inventory areas. This is an improvement in their process management to improve quality and accuracy in what they produce for panels.
– Steve Morris ’84 Th’85

I am the director of Resource Systems Group‘s environmental services division, based in White River Junction, Vt. We conduct noise-impact studies for wind farms and biomass energy plants and air pollution studies for biomass energy facilities, and we calculate the air emissions offsets related to renewable energy. An example of a local project we are working on is the air pollution permit for a wood pellet boiler at Dartmouth’s graduate student housing project in Sachem Village. We also did the permitting work for Hanover high and middle schools’ wood chip boilers. These biomass projects are very satisfying in that they have close to net-zero greenhouse gas impacts, rely on a local and renewable fuel source, and save money-especially in these times of high oil prices.
– Kenneth Kaliski ’85

I’ve done legal work for a gas-fired 720-megawatt energy plant in New Hampshire (I deal with air regulations and permit requirements) and work with a team of lawyers that is doing the legal work for several wind farm projects.
– Lisa Wade ’85

I am working with a Hong Kong-based Asian private equity fund, Olympus Capital, to invest capital in the environmental sectors in India. This includes renewables, of which biomass and small hydro, followed by wind, offer most promise. Energy efficiency, smart lighting and metering would also be included, though there are few opportunities in India to find the right platforms at this time.
– Himraj Dang ’89 Th’89

I am currently managing assets for New Energy Capital, a private equity firm in Hanover that develops, owns, and operates renewable energy projects. I am currently managing an 18-megawatt biomass power plant in Maine and three 2-megawatt cogeneration facilities for a commercial food processor with locations in Massachusetts and California. Our areas of focus for new project development include biomass to power, biofuels, cogeneration, waste to energy, and solar thermal power generation. Previously I worked for Northern Power Systems, a contractor in Waitsfield, Vt., that designs and builds on-site power systems in addition to producing a 100-kilowatt wind turbine for small wind applications. While there I developed and managed projects ranging from remote power systems in Antarctica for solar-powered runway lighting and Nuclear Test Ban Treaty monitoring to a complete power generation and 4,160-volt distribution system for the Island of Mohegan, Maine. In 1999 I helped to create the distributed generation group at Northern Power Systems to develop turnkey cogeneration and critical load support systems for grid-connected commercial and industrial customers. I have worked on projects ranging from 30-kilowatt to 30-megawatt utilizing solar power, microturbines, fuel cells, reciprocating engine gensets, and combustion turbines.
– Jim McNamara Th’89

See part 2 for more answers.

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Categories: Alumni News, Just One Question

Tags: alumni, award, climate change, energy, environment

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