A Message from the Director

Peter Lehman

Peter Lehman, SERC Director

As I write this, we have 15 students studying and working at the Center, our largest number ever.    They range from graduate students serving as research assistants on various projects, to three undergraduate UNPEPPers working as summer interns on our 6th University-National Park Energy Partnership Program, to a local high school student helping with our HyTEC hydrogen education project. It’s wonderful having all that student enthusiasm and energy at the lab.

Meanwhile, other Schatzers are out in the world. Co-director Arne Jacobson and grad students Peter Johnstone and Kristen Radecsky are in Kenya doing research comparing traditional kerosene lighting with modern LED lighting products. Grad student Ranjit Deshmukh just returned from Brazil where he investigated efforts there to utilize gasification and other technologies to utilize bagasse, the waste in sugar cane processing, to produce energy. Ranjit reports on his trip in this issue. Soon Ranjit and Arne will be joining UC Berkeley colleagues in Indonesia to report to the Indonesian Sugar Group on progress with our gasification project.

This is an exciting time for our new SERC facility. The Request for Proposals for a new SERC building was sent out seven weeks ago and design packages from design/build teams are due this week. Once they arrive, we will choose a winner and be on our way to a permanent home for SERC on the HSU campus.

And if opening design/build packages is not enough excitement, we received our first hydrogen vehicle this week. A hydrogen powered Prius, retrofit by Quantum Technologies, was delivered moments before this newsletter went to press. Meanwhile, project manager Greg Chapman and other Schatzers are busy bringing our newly completed fueling station on-line. In a short time, we’ll have Humboldt County’s first hydrogen vehicle on the road.

It seems that every time I write one of these quarterly columns, the price of oil has risen by a huge amount. In my last column, it had just cracked $100/bbl; now it’s near $140. The heartening news is that Americans are finally taking action to reduce their energy use. That’s a big step in the direction we have to go and good news for our planet.

About Peter Lehman

Director of SERC and a professor of Environmental Resources Engineering at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA. Dr. Lehman received a B.S. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago. He then served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley where he conducted research on the aerochemistry of photochemical air pollution. Before coming to HSU, he has been a member of the faculties of Sacramento State University; California State University, Northridge; and Deep Springs College. While at HSU, Dr. Lehman has served as chair of the Environmental Resources Engineering Department, co-chair of the International Development Technology masters program, and faculty advisor to the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology. His research interests include renewable energy systems, especially solar thermal and photovoltaic technologies. Dr. Lehman's work at the Schatz Center includes the development of solar hydrogen generation systems, development and production of fuel cell personal utility and neighborhood electric vehicles, and research and production of proton exchange membrane fuel cells. Most recently, the Center is involved in integrating electrolyzers into complete hydrogen generation and dispensing facilities, and developing and producing fuel cell systems for telecommunications, portable power and uninterruptible power supply applications.