In a December 2002 planning retreat, SERC staff agreed we wanted to do more to contribute to the betterment of our local community. We have made good on that resolution through a number of initiatives. Many of these projects have been in support of Humboldt County’s regional energy office, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA). The RCEA is a joint powers association that was created “to develop and implement sustainable energy initiatives that reduce energy demand, increase energy efficiency, and advance the use of clean, efficient and renewable resources available in the region.”
Since 1992 SERC has built and operated eight test stations for evaluating performance of its own proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. In 2002, the University of Michigan contracted with SERC to provide UM with a single-station fuel cell test stand. Following on the heels of this successful project, Kettering University approached SERC about building a multi-station test stand.
Dr. Etim Ubong and Dr. K. Joel Berry of Kettering’s mechanical engineering department made multiple visits to SERC to examine our test stations and to learn about our capabilities firsthand. The information exchanged during these visits helped Dr. Ubong and Dr. Berry identify exactly what features and specifications they required for their own test stand before placing their order with SERC. Kettering and SERC entered into a contract in August 2004. The test stand was designed, fabricated, and tested at SERC and then partially disassembled for shipment to Kettering University. SERC engineers traveled to Kettering to reassemble and activate the test stand and trained Kettering engineering faculty, technicians, and graduate students in operating and maintaining the system. SERC also provided Kettering with a comprehensive test stand operations and maintenance manual, as well as two built-to-order PEM fuel cell stacks for use with the test stand, one a 12-cell, 300 cm2 unit and the other a 4-cell 140 cm2 unit.
In order to promote the safe use of hydrogen as a transportation fuel and energy commodity, we need to educate and train industry professionals, emergency responders, government officials, permitting officials, and the general public about the promise of hydrogen and its safety characteristics. SERC is doing its part to spread the word. In recent years, we have developed and delivered hydrogen safety presentations to numerous groups.
In November of 2005 we trained over one hundred Oakland, CA firefighters about the safety aspects of gaseous hydrogen fuel and the specific safety features associated with AC Transit’s hydrogen energy facilities. The trainings included a 45-minute classroom presentation and a facility walk-through.
At SERC we aim to increase energy and environmental awareness by offering first-hand experience with clean energy technologies to students and the public. Our two-year-old docent program helps us accomplish this goal. SERC docents are motivated Humboldt State University (HSU) students interested in hydrogen and renewable energy. They share a common interest in the proliferation of renewable energy power systems in today’s society and voluntarily bring their knowledge out into the community.
We at SERC have been working hard for over 15 years to advance our mission to “promote clean and renewable energy.” But, despite writing many research papers and technical reports, securing patents, and making conference presentations all over the world, we’ve never had a newsletter.
Now we do and you are holding our first issue in your hands. We will publish it quarterly and hope it will keep our friends and colleagues up to date on our activities and connected with us and SERC.