In a corn field next to Bucknell’s campus: Stacy Richards, director of SEDA-COG’s Energy Resource Center; Jim Maneval, associate professor of chemical engineering; and chemical engineering major Nicholas Batt.

By Evan Dresser
LEWISBURG, Pa. – A Bucknell study of the feasibility of alternative fuels and energy in Central Pennsylvania may prove valuable in regional policy, planning, and economic development decisions.

Jim Maneval, associate professor of chemical engineering, and junior Nicholas Batt have worked closely with Stacy Richards, program director of the Energy Resource Center at SEDA-COG, a regional development agency, to develop the study and maximize its value to the region.

Maneval and Batt recently completed the portion of the study focusing on ethanol, which can be produced by processing corn. They will soon present their conclusions to SEDA-COG, which will use the study to inform its own programs, as well as policy-makers.

Sound planning and policy
"Having the science available can often take the politics and guess work out of making sound planning, program, and policy decisions," Richards said, "and I'm a Bucknell alum so I was very familiar with the quality of the engineering department."

Due to increased facility placement and investment interest in the region from a variety of renewable energy-related industries, SEDA-COG was looking for reliable information about the technical and economic feasibility of the region to accommodate these operations. 

By communicating directly with interested companies, as well as local constituents and state officials, the Bucknell team has sought to answer questions about the technologies themselves, as well as the anticipated effects on the local economy, available resources, aesthetics, and environment.

Not a simple issue
"This is clearly not a simple issue," said Maneval. "There are issues of energy use, natural resources, jobs, waste, transportation … and they’re all important to understand."

Batt, who is working on the case study as part of an undergraduate research project, has played a key role in collecting and analyzing the data.

"We started by looking at just ethanol, and now I’m looking at use of wood and paper waste to produce other biofuels," Batt said. "It’s good research experience, and I hope it’s also useful for the area."

Contact: Office of Communications

Posted July 25, 2007

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