Energy Education

The Ohio State University emphasizes energy education by making students more aware of how energy affects their day-to-day lives and how they can influence change.

Student Research to Aid Subsurface Energy, Alternative Fuel Studies

Student Research to Aid Subsurface Energy, Alternative Fuel Studies

Two Ohio State students are conducting energy research with funding from the university’s Office of Energy and Environment. Undergraduate Jacob Mendlovic and graduate student Nitya Subrahmanian are the first students to receive OEE’s research grants.

Mendlovic’s research focuses on the impacts of water produced from unconventional oil and gas processes; Subrahmanian is investigating ways to engineer an algal strain with optimal capacity for hydrogen production.

Mendlovic, an undergraduate senior in mechanical engineering, is researching the impacts of the chemical species found in water produced from unconventional oil and gas processes. The research will be part of his honors thesis; he works in the Microsystems and Nanosystems Laboratory directed by Assistant Professor Shaurya Prakash.

According to Mendlovic, his research will generate multiple ionic solutions containing commonly known species that could be found in the produced water. Mendlovic will test these solutions to see what their affects are on agar gel, a porous mimic for biological tissues.

Mendlovic also hopes to use the agar gel to test produced water obtained from actual shale activities. The key advancement is the use of a novel probe that the Microsystems and Nanosystems Laboratory is developing for a system for onsite water quality testing as opposed to the samples being sent to an off-site location for analysis.

In Subrahmanian’s project, the graduate student in the Department of Molecular Genetics will research a green microalga in the hopes of developing a strain with greater hydrogen production. Hydrogen is a promising alternative fuel source.

The research project is led by Associate Professor Patrice Hamel in collaboration with Maria Ghirardi of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

The unicellular green microalga, “Chlamydomonas reinhardtii,” is used for this purpose because it is a natural producer of hydrogen that has been extensively studied for many decades, and its genome is fully sequenced. This has enabled the development of advanced technical tools that can be applied to the study of hydrogen production. Subrahmanian will look at genetic traits that increase or decrease hydrogen production, which in turn could be used to engineer an algal strain with optimal capacity for hydrogen production.

The Office of Energy and Environment is dedicated to advancing education, research and innovation related to energy, the environment and sustainability. In addition to offering research grants to support undergraduate and graduate research, this year the office is introducing the Commitment to Sustainability Scholarship for undergraduates and contributing limited financial assistance for both undergraduate and graduate students to attend or participate in conferences, seminars or symposia related to energy, the environment or sustainability.

Students interested in the funding can contact OEE at energy.environment@osu.edu or 614-247-4762.

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