Date: August 19, 2009
Contact: Carol Connelly, Director,
Media & Communication Services, ext. 5267, email@example.com
PNC Faculty Member Earns Lugar Energy Patriot Award
WESTVILLE – Purdue University North Central faculty member Dr. Thomas Brady, associate professor of Industrial Engineering Technology and chair of the Department of Engineering Technology, has been named a Lugar Energy Patriot by U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar.
Brady becomes the 21st recipient of the Lugar Energy Patriot award. “We name Lugar Energy Patriots as a way to recognize outstanding Hoosiers who have demonstrated leadership and initiative in taking concrete action to improve America 's energy security and promoting sustainable energy production and use. I am pleased to recognize Dr. Brady for his initiative and leadership throughout Indiana ,” said Lugar.
Brady is tackling the problems facing the United States ' energy grid head on. “My job deals with how we do more with less, or much more with more. Technology is not the problem,” he explained. “It's scaling things up so you can use it. We need to get green things into the hands of every Hoosier. That's the big challenge.”
However, Brady doesn't see green living as a lifestyle conversion, but rather as a mission for engineering and economics. “As a lifelong Hoosier I want to see Indiana take the lead on this critical issue,” he continued. “With our resources and great universities there is no reason we can't be the solution. Indiana can contribute to the world as a whole.”
Brady's research focus helps Indiana wind and coal to be used more productively. “As consumer demand for electricity increases and society demands for greener electricity production intensify, wind power is emerging as a popular alternative,” Brady explained. “I am looking at how ‘efficient' wind generated electricity really is and what are the operational issues involved with a producer adding wind power to its electricity-generating assets.”
Indiana is one of the fastest growing states for wind power generation. Yet as growth continues, the inability to store energy from the time it is generated to when it is needed, along with undependable wind patterns, creates challenges to fully benefiting from Indiana 's wind potential.
Brady and his team of energy enthusiasts work to develop various methods of coping with strained energy demand including using more mini wind turbines, leveling energy demand through usage monitoring, and mass marketing energy efficient alternatives of household products and materials.
He also is working to maximize efficiency in the use of Indiana 's coal resources. “A lot of power in the U. S. is generated by coal, in Indiana particularly,” Brady said.
Indiana 's coal resources became even more important in meeting power demands when China announced last year that it would no longer export coal, according to Brady. This left Brady and his colleagues asking “can we get coal out of southern Indiana into the Chicago area where the exchange of coal takes place?”
“We have to think about what kind of loading facilities are needed and if we put extra coal traffic on those major rail lines, what kind of impact does that have,” Brady said. “It would impact everybody.”
Brady's experience with optimization and computer simulation has allowed him and his colleagues to simulate the response of our energy infrastructure to such expanded energy usage.
“We've been conditioned that energy is always going to be there, the system is showing signs of stress,” Brady said, noting that more than 304 million U.S. residents are in some way dependent on electricity.
“We don't realize how dependent we are. We assume it is going to be there and assume it is going to be cheap,” Brady said.
The key, he believes, is making energy efficient light bulbs, solar roofing panels and other alternatives available and affordable. At that point, it no longer becomes simply an environmentally conscious choice, but also the logical choice.
“When somebody comes up and asks you about it and people say ‘Wow, I've never thought of that' -- that's the reward I get out of this,” Brady said. “As a professor, that's part of our duty - to have people notice what you're doing and put that into perspective. They have no idea what resources Indiana has. That's when you know you're working on something important.”