State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry – SUNY ESF (Syracuse, New York)
Sustainable Energy (PhD Student)
Jenny Frank may still be a student, but her PhD research at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) has already generated excitement. So much so that the National Biodiesel Board’s sustainability program area has invested in funding the next phase.
Jenny conducts techno-economic analyses for renewable energy pathways.
“To reduce the probability of catastrophic climate change, the world economy needs to quickly decarbonize,” she explains. “This analysis quantifies the financial and greenhouse gas emission impacts of investing early in a mature and commercialized biomass-based diesel [biodiesel and renewable diesel] decarbonization technology, versus waiting five years and investing in an immature and not yet commercialized battery-electric pathway.”
This analysis accounts for a social cost of carbon benefit for the low-carbon fuel systems. The methodology quantifies the technical and financial feasibility of different technologies and feedstocks, including biomass-based diesel (BBD), in class 8 heavy-duty trucks.
“Performing this research has been a great learning experience and sparked my interest in the biodiesel field,” Jenny says. “I think biodiesel is a particularly interesting fuel system as it is a mature carbon abatement pathway that yields greenhouse gas emissions reductions as opposed to standard petroleum diesel.”
Her results find that when compared to battery-electric as a pathway to decarbonization, the biomass-based diesel pathway achieves the largest 20-year net present value.
In January of 2020, Jenny had the opportunity to present findings from Phase 1 of her research at the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo, earning an NGSB scholarship to attend.
Phase 2 of the research project involves modeling the cumulative impacts of a biodiesel pathway.
In addition to her national NGSB leadership role, at SUNY ESF, she developed the Renewable Energy Career Pathways Seminar to help students network and gain professional experience in the renewable energy field.
“Besides research, I am passionate about mentoring undergraduate students and helping them succeed,” she says. “Serving as a co-chair of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel presents a wonderful opportunity to educate and expand students’ interests in the biodiesel field,” she said.
The National Biodiesel Board is funded in part by the United Soybean Board and state soybean board checkoff programs.