A Message from the Director

AJ headshot 3We have completed the transition from summer to fall here in far northern California, and – while it has been clear and sunny for the past few days – we recently had the first heavy rainstorm of the season. As the seasons change, we remain busy at SERC with a diverse portfolio of clean energy projects. The selection of articles in this newsletter reflects this diversity.

In the lead article, Richard Engel reports on a project that is in line with our broader work aimed at enabling energy access in off-grid areas ranging from South Asia to East Africa. We are also happy to report on recent progress in our biomass energy collaboration with Renewable Fuel Technologies (RFT). We look forward to deepening our work with RFT and others in the field as we expand our efforts in this arena.

Several other articles reflect our long tradition of work related to clean transportation. We were pleased to be in a position to fuel the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that SERC alum Anand Gopal and his wife Liz Pimentel drove up from the Bay Area. We hope this event will be the first of many such occurrences made possible by our hydrogen vehicle fueling station.

We are also pleased to extend our plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging infrastructure planning work from California to India. The work in New Delhi, which involves collaboration with Anand Gopal and colleagues from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will require analysis in a new and complex setting involving very different driving patterns and electricity infrastructure. We at SERC always like to get involved in new and challenging work, and we hope to contribute meaningfully to the wider effort to enable cleaner transportation systems in New Delhi and beyond.

I will close by welcoming several new members to the SERC team. This August, Nick Bryant of Washington state and Amit Khare of New Delhi, India started work at SERC. They are also pursuing master’s degrees in the Energy Technology and Policy (ETaP) program here at HSU. We also have three additions to our docent team, including Yaad Rana, Onomewerike “Robo” Okumo, and Jake Coniglione. All are undergraduate students in the Environmental Resources Engineering program. It is great to have these students on board.

Docents Get HyTEC

new docents fall 2006

New docents (left to right) Lucas Siegfried, Kristen Radecsky, Joe Purdon and James Apple. (Photo Credit SERC)

Fall has begun and with it a flurry of activity in our education and outreach program. We added four new docents to our program, three Environmental Systems graduate students and one undergraduate in Environmental Resources Engineering. Our program now has eight docents, our largest group thus far.

During their first week, docents received training in our Hydrogen Technology and Education Curriculum (HyTEC) electrolyzer/fuel cell lab equipment and then provided backup support for the HSU Engineering classes that performed the lab. Even though the HyTEC project was developed for high school chemistry students (as described below), the positive feedback received after performing the lab in college courses demonstrates how the lab can be readily incorporated into college level courses.

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Watts Up?

SERC docents

2005-2006 docents (left to right) Eric Zielke, David Kang, Colin Ritter, Melissa Caldwell, and Kevin Fancher. (Photo Credit SERC)

What’s the difference between energy and power? What’s a “Watt?” These are some of the questions students explored during SERC’s “Got Energy?” workshops at the annual Redwood Environmental Education Fair (REEF).

Each spring, elementary and middle school students throughout Humboldt County converge for two days to learn about environmental education. SERC has participated in this event since 2001. Workshop attendees played “Watts Up?”, an interactive game that motivates students to explore the difference between energy and power and inspires them to think about the use of energy in their lives. Workshops culminated with a solar electric circuit activity that challenged students to discover how to sound a solar powered buzzer. Students were excited about this activity; many of them asked how to get their own solar panels and buzzers in order to pursue solar energy and power at home.

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