A Message from the Director

Peter Lehman

Peter Lehman, SERC Director

Last week I had the pleasure of participating in Climate Ride California (www.climateride. org), a bike ride from nearby Fortuna to San Francisco over five days. Participants raise money for bicycle and climate advocacy organizations and enjoy beautiful scenery, camaraderie, and plenty of fresh air while pushing the pedals. Caeli Quinn, one of the organizers, recruited me for their after dinner speaker series and I got to ride my bike the first day to Richardson’s Grove State Park. I presented a talk about our renewable energy efforts in Humboldt County and SERC senior research engineer Greg Chapman drove our Toyota fuel cell vehicle down for riders to see and learn about. It was one of the most thoroughly enjoyable days I’ve experienced.

A topic that came up during my talk that night is Proposition 23, a ballot initiative in this November’s election in California. Prop 23 is aimed at suspending AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, California’s landmark law that is the first in the nation to directly address climate change. The proposition is sponsored by the Koch brothers, Kansas billionaires and owners of the petroleum company Flint Hills Resources, and other out-of-state oil companies like Valero Energy and Tesoro. AB32 is the one shining light in our national efforts to lower our carbon intensity and California is finally really rolling with policy initiatives that will actually effect change. Right now polls have Prop 23 trailing badly. Let’s hope that Californians will continue to see through these transparent efforts to derail our pioneering climate efforts and send Prop 23 to the crushing defeat it deserves.

In this issue of our newsletter, Peter Alstone reports on our work that culminated in the Lighting Africa 2010 Outstanding Product Awards. These awards, which were given out at a trade fair in Nairobi, Kenya last May, honored companies that produced excellent LED lighting products for the African market. These new products will help displace fuel based lighting and will improve public health and reduce carbon emissions. Richard Engel reports on his progress to help institute renewable energy programs at Don Bosco University in El Salvador and our efforts here in California to introduce fuel cell and hydrogen energy topics to engineering students. Jim Zoellick reports on our continuing work with the Yurok Tribe to develop renewable energy on their reservation and improve their energy efficiency. And Greg Chapman describes our collaboration with Renewable Fuel Technologies, a start-up company that is developing torrefaction technology. Torrefaction takes woody biomass and produces an energy dense “bio-coal,” a product that can be easily transported and used to produce electric power.

After a rainy spring and a short, foggy summer, we’re finally enjoying some bright sunny autumn days in Arcata. Here’s hoping you too get some crisp, sunny weather as our days get shorter.

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.