In September we brought the Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) project to a successful conclusion. Over the three years the project was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, five universities adopted the curriculum for use in engineering, chemistry, and environmental science courses. In the closing months of the project, we completed our last instructional videos and provided DOE with a draft final report, currently undergoing review. The project will remain alive via its website (www.hydrogencurriculum.org), and we’re always interested in talking with educators who wish to adopt the curriculum. The hydrogen experiment kits and fuel cell test stations featured on the project website can be made to order; please contact us for a quote. We’re now in the process of seeking funding and partners to continue development and dissemination of the curriculum and commercialization of the lab equipment.
SERC is playing a key role in helping the Yurok Tribe of northern California add renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvements to their Tribal office buildings. As we reported in our fall 2010 newsletter, the Tribe is installing a solar electric system on their Weitchpec office and implementing energy efficiency upgrades in the Weitchpec building as well as their Klamath office. Measures include air sealing and improved lighting and HVAC controls.
Since 2009, SERC’s Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) project, with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, has produced over 50 hydrogen experiment kits that have been made available on loan to engineering departments at University of California and California State University campuses. Each kit includes an electrolyzer for generating hydrogen, a fuel cell for generating electricity with the hydrogen, and instruments for making measurements of system efficiency. SERC has developed a set of lab activities that incorporate the kit.
This is the first director’s column written in my new office in our new Schatz lab. It’s just wonderful to be in this modern, well-designed building that will certainly increase our productivity and has already made us proud. You can read about some of the details and see a picture in the building update in this issue.
But while the Schatz Center has been upgraded, the U.S. hydrogen and fuel cell technology program has fallen from sight. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has suggested that the hydrogen program be zeroed out in the next DOE budget. There is plenty of funding for battery research and plug-in hybrids, but not a penny for fuel cell vehicles. Secretary Chu tried to do this in last year’s budget cycle but was rebuffed by a strong coalition of legislators who insisted that the funding be restored.
SERC has been working with Austin Nova and others at the Yurok Tribe to assess the feasibility of developing wind and hydroelectric energy resources on the Yurok Reservation. In the fall of 2008 we installed stream gauging stations on Pecwan and Ke’Pel creeks, and in September of 2009 we installed a 50 meter wind monitoring tower atop the McKinnon Hill ridge. Since then we have collected a substantial amount of wind and hydro data, and we are now prepared to begin analysis of these data to see if energy development projects are feasible.
Since our last update, we have completed fabrication of two dozen benchtop fuel cell/electrolyzer kits and one of two fuel cell test stations to be built as part of the Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) project (see pictures, below). The purpose of the DOE-funded H2E3 project is to bring hands-on hydrogen and fuel cell education into classrooms and labs across the University of California and California State University systems. University of California, Berkeley and several fuel cell companies are partnering with SERC on the project.
SERC received word in June that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected us for negotiation of an award to develop hydrogen curriculum for California’s public universities.