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National Fuel Cell Research Center at UC Irvine to Test New, Efficient and Clean Power Generation Technology

Funds to Help Analyze Fuel Cell Systems and Promote Transfer of Fuel Cell Technology

UC Irvine's National Fuel Cell Research Center has received an award from the California Energy Commission to analyze power systems and encourage movement of fuel cell technology into industry.

The commission granted the center $305,733 through its Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program, which encourages research to make electricity safer, more affordable, reliable and environmentally sound for Californians.

Fuel cells are devices in which the energy of a chemical reaction is converted directly into electricity. Unlike batteries, fuel cells do not run down or require recharging. They require no burning of fossil fuels, making them an environmentally friendly technology.

Researchers and students at UCI's National Fuel Cell Research Center work with visiting engineers from industry at the center to develop, demonstrate and evaluate fuel cell technologies. Researchers develop solutions to technical problems, advance the commercialization of fuel cell technologies, and encourage the university, industry, government and consumers to work together.

The PIER award furthers part of the center's mission, to analyze energy needs and advanced fuel cell systems, including hybrid fuel cell and gas turbine engine systems, and to develop educational tools. The fuel cell center will create computer analyses to examine the efficiency and environmental impacts of power-generating systems and find optimal ways to provide power. Researchers will assess the many applications of fuel cells in the marketplace and develop an interactive website to educate people about energy.

"This is one of the first major awards granted to UCI's National Fuel Cell Research Center for accomplishing technology transfer, one of the primary goals of the center," said Scott Samuelsen, professor of mechanical, aerospace and environmental engineering, and center director. "These funds will help establish the tools needed to understand and advance fuel cell technology."

The awards also boost the center's efforts to promote technology transfer by communicating important developments in fuel cells to industry and the general public.

"Now we can develop material that accurately presents the state-of-the-art in energy research to the outside community," said Jacob Brouwer, the center's associate director.

The fuel cell center will create an archive of information on fuel cells and advanced power generation on its website, post a tour of the center and description of ongoing projects, provide course materials related to fuel cells for students from grade school through graduate school and post information for business and industrial interests.

Center leaders also will set up a training center on advanced power generation and an exhibition center so visitors can learn about how fuel cells and advanced power technologies work and compare various technologies.

The fuel cell center was dedicated in 1998 in cooperation with the fuel cell industry, the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Energy Commission, the California Air Resources Board and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Its mission is to promote and support the genesis of a fuel cell industry by providing technological leadership within a vigorous program of research, development and demonstration. For more information about the center, see NFCRC.

May 26, 1999