Thomas Aquinas Trabold — Golisano Institute for Sustainability
Dr. Trabold joined GIS after a twenty-year career in industrial research and development, including senior engineering positions at General Electric, Xerox and General Motors. In his current role as Director of the Center for Sustainable Mobility, research is devoted to development of mobility technologies that satisfy economic, environmental and social constraints. Electrochemical energy conversion devices such as fuel cells are favored for their high efficiencies relative to combustion processes, and the entire energy cycle can be nearly carbon-neutral if the hydrogen delivered to the fuel cell is derived by reforming renewable resources.
To this end, Dr. Trabold’s team is currently investigating the production and use of biodiesel from waste cooking oil, in a program funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Another area of research is production of methane from anaerobic co-digestion of dairy manure and food processing waste. In a recently published paper in Bioresource Technology, both biodiesel and bio-methane have been shown to provide a nearly carbon-neutral energy cycle when used as feedstocks for solid oxide fuel cell-based auxiliary power units (APUs) on heavy-duty trucks.
The Center for Sustainable Mobility is also strongly engaged in collaborations with national laboratories, university and industrial partners. Dr. Trabold and his students have applied neutron imaging to study the transport and accumulation of liquid water that forms as a product of the electrochemical reaction in proton exchange membrane fuel cells. Experiments are conducted at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in a facility that was built as the outcome of collaboration between Dr. Trabold and Dr. Muhammad Arif of NIST.