PITTSBURG, KS – When you hear summer vacation, changing the face of green technology probably doesn’t come to mind.
That is, unless you’re talking about the latest project at Pitt State.
Specifically, the work of eight high school students.
They’re working with the university to create cells and supercapacitor, and make them more efficient than current models, at only a fraction of the cost.
“We still have some time to fix some of this and so we have to drive forward and put some work into making cleaner technology.” Says Cassia Allison, Pittsburg High School Student.
The issue, pollution, and eight high school students from across Kansas are trying to help in the fight against it.
They’ve been spending their summer at the “Kansas Polymer Research Center” at Pittsburg State University.
“We’re making green batteries and zero carbon emission fuel cells.” Says Anjali Gupta, Pittsburg High School Student.
These fuel cells can be used in green technology like electric cars, so the students want to make it more accessible.
“Electric cars are starting to become a bigger thing nowadays and we want to help push that to a further step… So they can be not just something you can have if you only have a lot of money.” Says Maddie Ellis, Pittsburg High School Student.
It comes down to changing the material used to create the fuel cell.
“The most effective material they have is really expensive, so we’re trying to find a cheaper alternative that is just as effective and we also want to change the designs of some current fuel cells so that it fits more water and it’s easier to use.” Says Gupta.
By fitting more water, hydrogen can be produced for longer periods of time.
This would make electric cars using those fuel cells more efficient than current models.
“They can only go up to 200 miles when they are charged, but that is not good enough if you want to go from here to California or somewhere else.” Says Ram Gupta, PSU Assoc. Prof. Polymer Chemistry.
By the time they head back to school, not only will these students help change technology, but one of the biggest organizations.
“It’s kind of an honor to be part of the NASA Space Grant, because that’s not an opportunity every person gets, to work with a college in high school is kind of a really cool experience… It kind of feels like a big step forward for my career.” Says Allison.
So far, the students are about midway through the project.
They’ve finished their fourth week.
Those three we talked to knew each other before the project, and once they heard about it, they knew they had to be a part of it.