Humboldt State University

Schatz Energy Research Center

Our Capabilities

Exterior view of the SERC building at Humboldt State University.

As shown on our Projects page, SERC’s energy activities fall broadly in the categories of hydrogen and fuel cells, bioenergy, energy for the developing world, and policy and analysis. Our capabilities reflect these themes in our work.

SERC conducts research and analysis; designs, builds, operates, and demonstrates clean and renewable energy technologies; provides training for students in these technologies; and educates the public about the advantages of clean and renewable energy technologies.

SERC has developed and installed fuel cell test stations at five major research universities and has considerable experience in the design, installation and operation of data acquisition and control systems and analysis of data collected using such systems. We have also installed, operated, analyzed, and optimized performance of biomass gasification and torrefaction systems.

SERC’s work does not stop when the installation of energy systems is complete: our engineers go on to provide system testing and startup, technology transfer, operations and maintenance manuals, training services, and technical support and troubleshooting to our project clients.

The Center holds two U.S. patents on fuel cell technology and has commercialized its intellectual property via three license agreements with U.S. corporations. From our work with safety professionals, fire marshals, and code officials, Center personnel have become familiar with codes, standards, and safe practices in dealing with AC and DC electrical circuitry and hydrogen gas.

We conduct policy, economic and feasibility studies for hydrogen and renewable energy technologies. We also assist our clients in the political consensus building necessary to make groundbreaking projects become reality. We develop outreach and educational materials to garner public support for hydrogen and renewable energy projects, and we develop science-based curriculums to teach primary, secondary and university level students about hydrogen and renewable energy.

Qualified, Committed Staff

SERC’s three co-directors all hold PhDs in engineering or affiliated sciences and are members of the faculty of HSU’s department of Environmental Resources Engineering. Most of our research staff are graduates of the ERE program at the B.S. or M.S. level. We have one licensed professional mechanical engineer on staff. We also employ administrative support staff and a number of undergraduate and graduate students working on degrees in the ERE program.

Our Clients

SERC’s clients have included local, state and federal agencies, non-profit groups, Tribal governments, universities, and private corporations. Among these are: World Bank, US Department of Energy, California Energy Commission, California Air Resources Board, California Department of Transportation, Chevron Technology Ventures, United States Forest Service, Redwood National and State Parks, Natural Resources Defense Council, Alameda-Contra Costa Transit Agency, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, United Technologies Corporation, Yurok Tribe, Indonesian Sugar Group, and University of Michigan.

Our Facilities

Since January 2011, SERC has operated out of a new purpose-built facility atop a picturesque hill on the Humboldt State University campus. The 6,000 square foot-plus building houses an exterior laboratory, two indoor labs, a machine shop, a conference and demonstration room, and offices for staff and students.

The new building meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold equivalent standards. Funding for the $3.2M project came from the estate of the late Dr. Louis W. Schatz, SERC’s long-time benefactor. Some SERC facilities are located remotely from the main building.

Hover over the different areas in the diagram below for information on SERC’s facilities. In addition to our main building’s ground floor spaces shown in the diagram, we have over 2,000 square feet of office and conference facilities on our upper floor as well as additional research space off-site.

SERC First Floor

<img src="images/mapthumb-electronics-lab.jpg" alt="The SERC Electronics Lab" width="200" />The electronics lab features ventilated soldering stations, power supplies, test equipment, work benches, and organized storage for the wide array of electronic components used in SERC projects. <img src="images/mapthumb-fuel-cell-lab.jpg" alt="The SERC Fuel Cell Lab" width="200" />We use our fuel cell lab for assembly and testing of fuel cells and fuel cell test stations. A permanent test station allows for simultaneous testing of up to three fuel cell stacks. The space is equipped with a fume hood, ultrasonic bath, and extensive work and storage areas. Built-in plumbing supplies hydrogen, oil-free compressed air, and deionized water. <img src="images/mapthumb-lighting-lab.jpg" alt="The SERC Lighting Lab" width="200" />SERC’s lighting lab is equipped with instruments and data acquisition systems to measure the quality and performance of off-grid lighting systems.  We can evaluate light output and quality, batteries, solar modules, system quality, and other key parameters.  We are also equipped to carry out detailed field measurements related to off-grid lighting in rural areas of developing countries. These facilities support SERC in its work to evaluate the potential of off-grid lighting based on white light emitting diode (LED) technology to serve as a cost effective, reliable substitute for kerosene lighting in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. <img src="images/mapthumb-outdoor-lab.jpg" alt="The SERC Outdoor Lab" width="200" />Our 1,130-square-foot outdoor lab space provides an open but secure area where we can perform experiments and projects that are incompatible with our indoor labs.  We are currently using the outdoor lab space for testing of small solar products as part of the off-grid lighting project. <img src="images/mapthumb-machine-shop.jpg" alt="The SERC Machine Shop" width="200" />The machine shop features a state-of-the art computer numerically controlled (CNC) mill used for fabricating parts from metals, plastics, and wood. The shop also includes a comprehensive array of power and hand tools and a large hardware inventory, allowing most fabrication and repairs to be performed in-house.

SERC Second Floor

<img src="images/mapthumb-building.jpg" alt="The Schatz Energy Research Center" width="200" />Since January 2011, SERC has operated out of a new purpose-built facility atop a picturesque hill on the Humboldt State University campus. The new building meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold equivalent standards. Funding for the $3.2M project came from the estate of the late Dr. Louis W. Schatz, SERC's long-time benefactor. Some SERC facilities are located remotely from the main building. <img src="images/mapthumb-staff-offices.jpg" alt="The SERC Staff Area" width="200" />SERC's spacious and amply daylit office space is equipped with 15 computer work stations, all connected to a central server, with high speed internet access and large-format color printers. <img src="images/mapthumb-conferenceroom.jpg" alt="The SERC Conference Room" width="200" />The SERC conference room provides a meeting facility with a picturesque view of redwood trees in addition to modern audio and video conferencing capability.  The room also houses SERC's research and educational library.

Offsite Facilities

<img src="images/mapthumb-building.jpg" alt="The Schatz Energy Research Center" width="200" />Since January 2011, SERC has operated out of a new purpose-built facility atop a picturesque hill on the Humboldt State University campus. The new building meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold equivalent standards. Funding for the $3.2M project came from the estate of the late Dr. Louis W. Schatz, SERC's long-time benefactor. Some SERC facilities are located remotely from the main building. <img src="images/mapthumb-sorms.jpg" alt="The HSU Solar Radiation Monitoring Station" width="200" />This station collects information about global and diffuse solar radiation on a horizontal plane. The monitoring station, located on the roof of the Humboldt State University library, utilizes a pair of Eppley Precision Spectral Pyranometers (PSP), an Eppley Shadow Band, and a Campbell Scientific data logger to collect data. <img src="images/mapthumb-fueling-station.jpg" alt="The HSU Hydrogen Fueling Station" width="200" />The Humboldt State University Hydrogen Fueling Station, California’s first rural hydrogen facility, is the northernmost link in the California Hydrogen Highway. The station, operating since 2008, includes an electrolyzer, compressor, storage tanks, and a dispenser and can generate up to 2.5 kg a day of hydrogen fuel using grid electricity and municipal water. <img src="images/mapthumb-trinidad.jpg" alt="The Trinidad Solar Hydrogen Station" width="200" />The Schatz Solar Hydrogen Project was initiated in the fall of 1989 to demonstrate hydrogen as an effective means of solar energy storage. Located in Trinidad, California about 15 miles north of SERC’s main facility, this energy system operated until 2010, taking advantage of the solar hydrogen cycle to aerate the aquaria at Humboldt State University’s Telonicher Marine Laboratory. SERC engineers have monitored and reported on the solar array’s performance over a 20-year period. Recently the project’s solar array was used as a test site for a newly commercialized photovoltaic performance optimization device. <img src="images/mapthumb-solar-beach.jpg" alt="The SERC Solar Beach at the Environmental Resources Engineering Building" width="200" />This outdoor testing laboratory includes facilities for testing the performance of photovoltaic modules and solar water heating collectors. SERC is equipped to measure and model the current-voltage (IV) characteristics of crystalline and amorphous silicon photovoltaic technologies over a range of module and array sizes and to track these characteristics over long periods as modules age.