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Meet Climate & Energy Challenge Past Interns: 2009

Energy Technology

Steven Baldassano, 2011, Chemical Engineering


Internship:
The Chemical Biology of Renewable Fuels Production
 
Organization:
Princeton University
 
Adviser:
G. Charles Dismukes
 
"Diatoms, a class of eukaryotic plankton, are under investigation as possible producers of lipid precursors to be used in biofuel production. Environmental stresses have been shown to alter the carbon composition of diatoms, often resulting in increased usable lipid (TGA) content. There were two aims of this experiment. The first was to determine the effect of nitrogen deprivation on the carbon budget and distribution of the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum. The second was to determine whether increases in specific carbon pools were due to a rearrangement of preexisting carbon in the cells or uptake of new carbon from the surroundings. Cells were grown into exponential phase in normal media, and then transferred to sealed containers without access to environmental carbon. The only carbon source from this point is labeled C13 bicarbonate. Also, half of the cells were placed in nitrogen deficient media. After several days, the lipid, protein, and carbohydrate content of the samples was measured. Nitrogen deprivation increased lipid and storage carbohydrate pools, while decreasing protein. Nitrogen deficient cells showed altered physical characteristics, becoming much larger and ovoid. Ongoing mass spectroscopy is being used to determine the fraction of labeled carbon in each pool. This measurement will indicate whether lipid and carbohydrate increase is due to de novo synthesis with new carbon uptake or rearrangement of preexisting carbon stores." (See presentation.)

Nathan Buch, 2010, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Internship:
Water Oxidation Catalyst –Solar Cell

Organization:
Princeton University
 
Adviser:
Charles Dismukes
 
"Identify an efficient, economically attractive alternative catalyst to platinum for use in photoelectrochemical cells." (See presentation.)

Ryan Corey, 2012, Electrical Engineering


Internship:
Mid-Infrared Quantum Cascade Lasers and Laser Spectroscopy

Organization:
Princeton University

Adviser:
Claire Gmachl

"Dr. Gmachl's lab at Princeton researches quantum cascade laser technology as part of the Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE) organization. Quantum cascade lasers are an excellent source of coherent laser light in the mid-infrared, but there are no powerful sources of low-coherence light, such as light emitting diodes, in that part of the spectrum. My project was to create a more energy-efficient mid-infrared LED from conventional quantum cascade lasers. This technology may have applications in medical imaging and illumination. With my partner Tiffany Ko, I designed and tested a diffuser plate made from potassium bromide that scatters laser light and scrambles the beam. My research is still in the early stages of development, but my results so far showed promise, and I plan to continue the project during the year." (See presentation.)


David Hegermiller, 2010, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Internship:
Amorphous Silicon Solar Cell Intern

Organization:
United Solar Ovonic, Troy, MI

Advisers:
Sigurd Wagner (Princeton) and Dr. Jeff Yang (United Solar)

"This summer, I utilized my mechanical and material knowledge to repair broken and outdated machinery around the Research and Development Section of United Solar Ovonic. This streamlined the production line and allowed for more efficient research and production. I also experimented with a hundred thousand dollar piece of machinery which was inexplicably broken and unusable. I diagnosed the problem and put a plan in motion to fix it before I left for the summer. It should be fixed and in proper working condition within the month." (See presentation.)


Andrew Jones, 2010, Physics


Internship:
Magnetic Diagnostics for the Lithium Tokamak Experiment (LTX) at PPPL

Organization:
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Princeton, NJ

Advisers:
Robert Kaita and Laura Berzak

"LTX is a low aspect-ratio tokamak with a heated metal shell designed to be coated with liquid lithium. While magnetic fluxes through diagnostic Mirnov coils and flux loops on the LTX machine yield data which may be used to constrain plasma parameters during reconstruction, the measured signals are often highly sensitive to magnetically induced eddy currents in the conducting shell, and digital integrator circuits introduce error into the gain factors for the sensors.  Over the course of 10 weeks, I created a meshed representation of the conducting metal shell around the LTX machine for implementation into the 2D, axisymmetric LRDFIT code used to reconstruct sensor behavior in the presence of eddy currents. I compared the resultant model-predicted signals to the measured diagnostic signals, as well as to model-predicted signals from LRDFIT in the absence of the conducting shell mesh. I developed and automated a novel calibration method to account for individual sensor gain factors, which may be used on the machine in my absence.  In parallel with my work, a 3D reconstruction code was created to better account for eddy currents; the new calibration procedure will still be applicable to the new system." (See presentation.)

 

David Krueger, 2009, Electrical Engineering


Internship:
Laser Spectroscopic Carbon Dioxide Sensor Network for Surface and Sub-Surface Monitoring of Geologic Carbon Sequestration Sites

Organization:
Princeton University

Adviser:
Gerard Wysocki

"This project centered on the development of a wireless sensor network for trace gas detection using mid-Infra Red Quantum Cascade Lasers. Existing electronics were insufficient for this task, so custom electronics had to be developed. My contribution to the project included the development of hardware to drive and control the temperature of the laser. I developed the electronics through the full production cycle: schematic capture, board layout, and physical prototype testing. This process gave me an opportunity to put into practice many of the theories and lessons that I had learned in the classroom but had not had the opportunity to put into practice. Getting the system running required modifying existing software as well as developing my own software." (See presentation.)


Kathryn Laney, 2010, Chemical Engineering


Internship:
Using A Polymer Electrochemical Hydrogen Pump for Energy Efficient Recovery of Hydrogen from Reformate Streams

Organization:
Princeton University

Adviser:
Jay B. Benziger

"Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells are traditionally used in a galvanic mode to produce electrical energy from chemical reactions. However, when operated in an electrolytic fashion they can function as a polymer electrochemical hydrogen pump (PEcHP). PEcHP selectively oxidizes and transports hydrogen across the polymer membrane while leaving charged neutral species behind. This technology may prove especially useful in purifying hydrogen from reformate streams, which consists primarily of hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The specific aim of this project was to determine the performance of the PEcHP under various reformate ratios, temperatures, and flow rates. We hope to optimize this process so as to provide a more energy efficient means of industrial hydrogen purification in the future." (See presentation.)


Yin Liang, 2011, Chemical Engineering


Internship:
Design a small “diamond-channel” fuel cell and testing its water-management performance

Organization:
State Key Lab of Material Synthesis, Wuhan University of Technology

Advisers:
Jay Benziger (CHE) and Mu Pan (Wuhan University of Technology)

"I designed a diamond-shaped channel which is fitted into a small (5cm X 5cm) fuel cell. With it I performed various testing to study its performance in water-management, which is a traditional problem for fuel cell systems working at higher humidity conditions or for longer time range. Comparisons were made with a 5cm X 5cm regular serpentine-channel fuel cell. Besides, throughout the internship I also had the opportunity to participate in testing and assembling of regular fuel cells for the lab." (See presentation.)


Brendan Mahon, 2010, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Internship:
Water Diffusion in a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell

Organization:
Princeton University

Adviser:
Jay Benziger

"As Fuel Cells continue to be a source of interest and great potential in the search for more efficient, cleaner energy sources there is still a great deal to be learned and improved upon in their design.  While there are many different kinds of fuel cells, each with their own inherent advantages and disadvantages, this research focused on Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells.  A Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell takes Hydrogen and Oxygen as its two reactants and produces only water as a product. For this reason it is a source of great interest in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Meanwhile, the Nafion membrane used in most Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells exhibits drastically different properties at different saturation levels.  For this reason, it’s exceedingly important to study the properties of Nafion over the range of the fuel cell’s operating conditions and saturation levels.  This research focused on diffusion rates of water in a Nafion fuel cell at varying pressures and temperatures and refining the methods used in their determination.  While technical difficulties ultimately limited the extent of the study, additional studies should be conducted to determine how pre-stressing the membrane alters water diffusion rates along the direction of the stresses." (See presentation.)


Jonathan Samorajski, 2012, Mathematics

Jonatham Samorasjki

Internship:
Opportunity in Plasma Science & Technology, PPPL

Organization:
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Princeton, NJ

Adviser:
Herschel Rabitz

"This summer, I worked on a theoretical project involving radiation-matter interaction. This is very important in energy research, especially in the areas of fusion sciences and solar radiation conversion. Research on the subject has moved beyond the question of what physics actually underlies this interaction, to explore how materials and radiation can be tailored in order to influence and even control this fundamental interaction. One of the areas in which this study is being pursued is that of cloaking. In this area, a primary goal is to create materials that can shape the path and radiation pattern of light in order to make that material appear invisible to an observer. A natural extension to this quest is to tailor the light incident on the cloak in such a way that it can interact with the cloak in order to create a different radiation pattern to make the cloak visible to the observer. Whereas cloaking attempts to control the fundamental radiation-matter interaction by tailoring the material, decloaking attempts to control this by tailoring the incident radiation. My summer research aimed to first understand and formulate the recently emerging documented cloaking effect and then to discover if light can be tailored to undermine this effect. Over the course of the summer, I was able to gain this understanding of cloaking that I sought. However, I plan to continue this work, throughout the year, to delve into decloaking." (See presentation.)


Energy Policy

Jayne Choi, 2010, Chemical Engineering


Internship:
Preparation of a Teaching Module on Heat Loss

Organization:
ISLES, Princeton and Trenton, NJ

Advisers:
Dr. Robert Harris and Prof. Catherine Peters

"Drawing on work that I did during the year as a part of the Greentrofit team for the Princeton EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service) program, I spent my summer working with Dr. Robert Harris and ISLES in Trenton to create a teaching module useful in job training programs aimed at students receiving instruction in energy audits and weatherization.  The teaching module was composed of an overview of heat transfer concepts relevant to heat loss from a house in the winter, an explanation and examples of calculations for convective, conductive, and boiler inefficiency heat losses, and instruction in how to use an excel spreadsheet that modeled heat losses from a house during the heating season.  Using an example application of the energy model to a real house in Trenton that I developed with the EPICS team during the year, students are able to learn how to calculate heat losses themselves using the energy model.  Nearing the conclusion of my internship, I conducted an interactive one-day training session at the ISLES Center for Energy and Environmental Training (CEET) as a beta test of this teaching module and revised the course materials based on feedback following the test." (See presentation.)


Rohit Gawande, 2011, Woodrow Wilson School


Internship:
ISLES Summer Internship

Organization:
ISLES, Princeton and Trenton, NJ

Adviser:
Robert Harris

"I worked on various sustainability and energy efficiency projects involving low-income housing. In addition, I researched the various funding opportunities available to ISLES, specifically regarding energy efficient housing improvements, I examined the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in addition to the Federal Fiscal Year 2010, in order to identify possible sources of funding for projects at ISLES. One of the major projects I worked on involved developing a system to install real-time energy monitors in low-income housing. This project was designed to help residents conserve energy, while also collecting data about energy usage in Trenton. Finally, the internship also involved working in ISLES's community gardens." (See presentation.)


Taylor Leyden, 2012, Undeclared


Internship:
Renewable Energy Internship

Organization:
Princeton University

Adviser:
Tom Kreutz

"This summer, I examined possible solutions to a problem that Princeton University is facing regarding its carbon footprint. The University wishes to reduce its carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, but 25% of that reduction goal remains undetermined--the first 75% will be comprised of comprehensive energy efficiency projects. During my internship, I delved into the areas of renewable energy and environmental legislation in New Jersey. My research focused on Renewable Energy Certificates, carbon offsets, renewable energy installation, and incentive programs in our state and those offered under cap-and-trade legislation. Due to many convoluted additionality concerns--a term which refers here to the degree to which a certain entity is responsible for carbon reductions--I determined that the most sensible thing for Princeton to do, given current economic and legislative conditions, would be to buy good carbon offsets." (See presentation.)


Sara Peters, 2011, Political Science


Internship:
Science and business journalist intern with the New York Times

Organization:
The New York Times/ New York City, New York

Adviser:
Elizabeth Rosenthal (guest professor)

"I worked at the New York Times for a total of 8 weeks--from the second week of June until the last week of July.  Throughout the entire summer, I was given tasks to be completed by my departure date.  I fixed grammatical errors in the New York Times' Green Inc. blog wordpress, and I compiled a sixty page data sheet of similar websites/ blogs to the Green Inc. blog.  Each work day, I updated facebook and twitter news standings for followers of energy and environment information of the New York Times.  Every day, I completed a comprehensive google news search for the business editors of the energy and environment section of the Times.  I would send a url, with a few detailed sentences explaining the news, to the editors on solar power, wind power, geothermal energy, biodiesel gas, and eight other climate change/environmental topics.  Often, Times' writers picked up these news blurbs for their own stories.  The rest of my time at the Times was geared towards researching

story topics, cold-calling people for interviews, meeting with people in the city  to learn about my story topic, working with New York Times writers on draft changes, and simply, writing for the blog and helping Tom Zeller Jr. and Kate Zeller blog post for the Green Inc. blog of the New York Times.  My published works: http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/author/sara-peters/." (See presentation.)

Climate Science

Raheel Anwar, 2012, Undecided


Internship:
Chloroplast Isolation from Marine Diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii

Organization:
Princeton University

Advisers:
Professor Morel and Dr. Xu

"My project was focused on the isolation of chloroplasts from TW diatoms. This is important to study because diatoms such as TW affix a large portion of the world's carbon dioxide. Isolating the chloroplasts proved to be a challenge for many reasons and I am continuing the work this semester in the lab." (See presentation.)


Dmitri Garbuzov, 2010, Computer Science

Dmitri Garbuzov

Internship:
Implementing a Dynamic Parametrization of Dry Aerosol Deposition

Organization:
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), Forrestal Campus, Princeton NJ

Adviser:
Dr. Paul Ginoux

"My project consisted of two distinct but related parts. In order to familiarize myself with the flexible modeling system and the various development tools used at GFDL I first took an existing module that implemented a new emission scheme for mineral dust in an older version of the coupled model and moved it into a standalone version of LM3 to facilitate testing and tuning. This served as an introduction to developing and building models rather than just using them for experiments. The next step and the main focus of my internship was to implement a dynamic parametrization of dry aerosol deposition that could be used for aerosols and various gaseous species based on a previous work (M.L Wesely, 1988). This paper describes a popular way of modeling deposition analogous to electrical resistances, with multiple parallel pathways of deposition e.g. upper canopy, lower canopy, ground, etc. In order to adapt this to the land model at GFDL, the number of pathways had to be reduced since only canopy and ground resistances were available in the land model. This new deposition parametrization should allow a better assessment of the accuracy of modeled aerosol tracer emission and transport. In the future, satellite observations will be compared to modeled changes of the optical properties of the earth's surface due to aerosol deposition." (See presentation.)


Sean McGinnis, 2011, Geosciences


Internship:
Characterizing relationships between surface ozone and temperature over the United States: Insights into chemistry-climate interactions

Organization:
Geophysical and Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), Forrestal Campus, Princeton, NJ

Advisers:
Arlene Fiore and Larry Horowitz (GFDL)

"Climate models from around the world are used by the Intergovermental Panel for Climate Change in order to assess effect of human activity on the global climate. A relatively new direction is to include chemistry in these models, allowing for projections of climate change on air quality (ozone and aerosols in surface air). To date, the ability of global chemistry-climate models to reproduce observed correlations between temperature (or any meteorological index) and air quality has not been evaluated. Furthermore, many of these models (including the GFDL chemistry-climate model) exhibit a large positive bias in surface ozone over the eastern United States, casting doubts on their reliability for this application. It is well known that surface ozone correlates strongly with temperature over the eastern United States in summer.  I analyzed observations of surface ozone and temperature over the United States to explore whether there are broad regional patterns in this relationship that we can use to test the models. This information could also tell us if some of the model bias is associated with inaccuracies in the surface temperature simulation. I also looked to both interannual and seasonal variability across the US.   Some of the findings include the different sensitivities to temperature in ozone production in different regions of the US, which might tell us something about the processes going on in those regions.   To further evaluate the current model, I developed diagnostic code in order to quickly assess the bias of the current model run." (See presentation.)


Lija Treibergs, 2011, Geosciences


Internship:
Identifying the Nitrogen Sources to Plankton Groups in the Surface Ocean by Coupling Flow Cytometry and Stable Isotope Measurements

Organization:Princeton University & Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), Bermuda

Adviser:
Daniel Sigman

"My project involved studying the stable isotope fractionation of nitrogen during nitrate uptake and assimilation in both a lab grown diatom culture and in a field experiment from nitrate limited water of the Sargasso Sea. The lab culture was grown in order to model an isotope fractionation curve typical of nitrate uptake in a nitrate limited system. The field experiments and samples, which were taken during a seven-day research cruise out of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), will be analyzed to give insight to the nitrate sources in the Sargasso Sea. Nitrate, which is a vital nutrient to the photosynthetic plankton living in the surface ocean, is quickly used up in the subtropical Sargasso Sea due to the abundance of sunlight and therefore high levels of photosynthesis and is one of the limiting factors to photosynthetic production in this region. Nitrogen cycling and sources have been studied in the Sargasso Sea, but my project aimed to study this cycling in further detail by sorting the bulk phytoplankton biomass by species via flow cytometry and looking at the individual species’ sources of nitrate." (See presentation.)


Marjorie Willner, 2011, Chemical Engineering

Marjorie Willner

Internship:
Mercury Methylation

Organization:
Princeton University

Adviser:
Francois Morel

"I investigated mercury methylation and uptake in /Geobacter/ sulfurreducens. I looked into the effects of cysteine and zinc on the methylation rate. I ran experiments to see if the Zn competed with mercury for uptake or if the zinc limited the rate of growth of the cells." (See presentation.)


Haley Rae Thompson, 2011, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Internship:
METLA - Finnish Forest Research Institute

Organization:
METLA, Finnish Forest Research Institute, Vantaa, Finland

Advisers:
Harri Makinen and Tuula Jyske

"I worked at METLA, the Finnish Forest Research Institute, in Vantaa Finland. I was working on the CambGrow project studying the cell formation in two species of tree over a growing season. The purpose of this research was to learn more about how tracheid cells are produced throughout a growing season and to compare results from trees in different geographical locations as well as different soils. I worked in a lab to prepare slides and then analyzed the slides using a microscope and measurement software. Besides my lab work, I had the opportunity to attend several presentations on various aspects of forestry in Finland and helped to edit manuscripts for researchers in my group." (See presentation.)