MSU work seeks energy alternatives

By Robbie S. Ward/Mississippi State University

STARKVILLE – Roger King stood outside of Mississippi State’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems Tuesday and eyed what he sees as the future of transportation.
Looking at the Nissan Leaf, a completely electric vehicle, King said Mississippi needs to get ready.
“That’s the future,” said King, director of CAVS. “The cost of gasoline has just gotten too expensive.”
But the future of energy policy and usage by businesses in the United States won’t involve just one change. It will likely have many different types of alternatives to petroleum.
As researchers, government officials and business owners all struggle with the sluggish economy, they all agree that rising transportation costs affect their products and services. They discussed ways to improve energy costs through innovations and new research. From local governments using propane-fueled vehicles to solar and electric energy sources, MSU researchers and leaders continue to look for ways to improve energy policy in the country.
Highlighting Mississippi’s success in recruiting automotive manufacturing plants in recent years, Motice Bruce, director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s energy division, said green vehicle technology can be an area of growth for the state.
“When energy is scarce or expensive, we see inflation, unemployment and other things harmful to the economy,” Bruce said. “We think that green energy technology can help avoid this.”
MSU researchers look to a variety of energy sources as solutions to helping find alternatives to Middle Eastern oil sources. From an array of bio fuels to innovations on existing technologies, researchers continue to seek ways to lower costs associated with energy and transportation.
Michael S. Mazzola, associate director at CAVS, is among the researchers looking to lower transportation costs while lowering emissions. His research has received about $1 million in funding from the Environmental Protection Agency for a project that decreases idling of 18-wheeler trucks. Working with two trucking companies to test the research, Mazzola anticipates saving 123 trucks more than 144,000 gallons of diesel in two years, while also reducing tons of environmentally harmful emissions.
“This research will pay off for years to come,” he said.