As reported in our last issue, SERC will soon receive a hydrogen-powered Toyota Prius for use at Humboldt State University (HSU). SERC engineers have recently completed design of an on-campus hydrogen fueling station to be located just a block away from SERC. Equipment is beginning to arrive and construction is scheduled to get underway shortly. The station will generate hydrogen on-site, compress it, store it, and dispense it to vehicles. Vehicle delivery and fueling station completion are both expected to take place by mid-July.
Article by Ranjit Deshmukh
Biomass has a tremendous potential for providing renewable energy if it is harvested in an environmentally sustainable manner. The forestlands of Humboldt County have considerable biomass that is scheduled for removal due to fuel reduction and fi re prevention activities. The Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC), with potential collaboration with the Schatz Tree Farm and the Department of Forestry at Humboldt State University, is looking at possible ways to convert this forest biomass into useful energy. As a Schatz Energy Fellow and SERC team member, I am involved in studying the thermal gasifi cation process and researching its feasibility in successfully harnessing energy from the forest biomass.
SERC recently added UTC Power to their list of clients for whom they have provided hydrogen safety and awareness training. That list also includes Chevron, AC Transit, SunLine Transit, and the State University of New York at Buff alo.
UTC Power, a Connecticut-based company, has led an industry team to build New England’s fi rst fuel cell bus, which will be operated by CTTRANSIT. The bus will debut in Hartford in April. A $2.9 million Federal Transit Administration grant is paying for the bus and associated infrastructure development. The bus features a UTC Power PureMotion™ 120 kW fuel cell power system, a VanHool chassis, and a hybrid all-electric drive system integrated into the bus by ISE Research Corporation. The bus will be fueled at a new hydrogen fueling station at UTC Power, and will be housed and maintained at CT Transit’s central bus terminal.
SERC’s ongoing effort to help the Yurok Tribe develop a Tribal energy program has recently been strengthened by a new collaboration with engineering students and faculty at Humboldt State University (HSU). The students, enrolled in Dr. Eileen Cashman and Dr. Arne Jacobson’s capstone engineering design course for graduating seniors, are investigating options for hydropower development on the Yurok Reservation’s many creeks. The class is learning how to operate within numerous technical, economic, environmental, and cultural constraints. The Tribe is eager to make greater use of on-Reservation energy resources but is also wary of potential impacts on fisheries or Yurok sacred and ceremonial sites.
Over the past two years, SERC has worked with the Washington, DC-based Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) on the creation of an energy efficiency curriculum intended for nationwide use in high schools. The curriculum, known as Student Energy Auditor Training (SEAT), teaches students about energy by having them perform an energy audit on their own campus. SERC staff have pilot-taught the three-day curriculum in a half dozen schools across northern California, receiving positive reviews from students and teachers. In several cases, schools have gone on to make energy-saving upgrades based on the students’ recommendations.
What a difference a year makes. SERC colleague Arne Jacobson and I traveled to Washington, D.C. in January to speak to our lawmakers, discuss ongoing work at the Center, and offer our support and guidance on climate change legislation. For the last few years, there has been general pessimism in the Congress that anything would be accomplished with regard to climate change. This time, Arne and I found energy and optimism. We met with staffers for Senators Feinstein and Boxer, including the chief consul of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, the Senate Committee that will be taking up climate change legislation. We were also fortunate to meet with Congressman Mike Thompson and his staff. Everyone was encouraged that times have changed and real movement toward effective legislation is fi nally happening. Whether it will be Senator Feinstein’s incremental bill or Senator Boxer’s more radical one, we wish the Congress luck in finally tackling our most pressing global issue.