A Message from the Director

Peter Lehman

Peter Lehman, SERC Director

Over the years I’ve given numerous talks about energy to audiences ranging from university students to citizen groups. Whenever I speak about the renewable energy future that we must someday achieve, a frequent question is, “What do we need to get there?” My answer has always been, “The most important thing we need is political leadership at the top.”

About two months into the Obama administration, we finally have that leadership. The President has recognized and has said out loud numerous times that energy issues are crucial to our economic health and our national security. He has proposed increased energy efficiency standards, a cap and trade system to address carbon emissions, and a 10 year, $150 billion investment in clean energy, among many other proposals. His goals are ambitious, too ambitious say some, in light of the host of problems we all face, but we at the Schatz Center applaud him for his vision and his courage. It’s about time our nation has a forward looking energy policy and we wish the President and DOE Secretary Steven Chu luck in moving their agenda forward.

Here at home, our long awaited building project to construct a new Schatz Center has begun. We’ve mounted a camera on the third floor balcony of a neighboring building and are taking time lapse pictures of the construction as it progresses.

This issue includes an account by Peter Johnstone of his trip to Kenya for the Off-Grid Lighting Project. Frequent contributors Richard Engel and Jim Zoellick provide updates on projects they manage, Richard on the Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education Project and Jim on the Yurok Wind and Hydro Feasibility Study. And grad student Joe Purdon reports on one of SERC’s more far flung adventures to date. To procure the right type of bagasse for our gasifier work, Joe and SERC engineer Mark Rocheleau flew to Texas, loaded up a rental truck, and drove their 3-ton payload back to Arcata, a trip dubbed, “Bagasse Across America.”

The plum tree in my back yard is celebrating the equinox by blooming its heart out. As the sun returns again to our northern hemisphere, here’s wishing you all a sunny and productive spring season.

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.