Humboldt State University

Schatz Energy Research Center

Projects Archive List

Two people refuel a small hydrogen car in Palm Desert California.

Our website focuses on current and recent SERC projects, but you can also explore two decades of earlier projects in our archive below.

Torrefaction Research - SERC partnered with Renewable Fuel Technologies to develop, test, and commercialize a biomass torrefaction system.

Biomass Gasification Research - SERC partnered with the University of California at Berkeley to assess the potential for biomass gasification. SERC’s task included the procurement, installation, operation, and testing of a 20 kW downdraft gasifier using various feedstocks, including bagasse and woody biomass.

Wind and Hydroelectric Feasibility Study - SERC worked with the Yurok Tribe on a Department of Energy funded project to assess the feasibility of run-of-the-river hydroelectric and wind energy development on the Yurok Reservation. Project tasks included site selection, data monitoring, resource assessment, technology assessment, preliminary design, economic analysis, and strategic planning.

AC Transit Hydrogen Fueling Station Consulting - Since 2004, SERC has provided consulting services to the Alameda-Contra Costa (AC) Transit District in San Francisco’s East Bay region. AC Transit has one of the most comprehensive hydrogen fuel cell demonstration programs in the world. SERC has conducted hydrogen trainings for staff and management, conducted emergency responder trainings for fire departments throughout AC Transit service territory, assisted with public outreach activities, and provided consulting services on AC Transit’s hydrogen fueling stations in Oakland and Emeryville.

Schatz Solar Hydrogen Project Photovoltaic Array - Analysis of pre- and in-service performance characteristics of the Schatz Solar Hydrogen Project photovoltaic array.

Development of Energy Efficiency Metrics - SERC conducted research for the Natural Resources Defense Council to develop a methodology for an aggregate, state-level metric of energy consumption intensity (ECI) in the residential, commercial, and transportation sectors and provide proof-of-concept simulations for each sector for each of the lower 48 states. Research confirmed it is possible to track trends in state energy consumption intensity, and with improved data collection the approach could be further strengthened into a powerful tool for evaluating states’ progress in reducing energy consumption.

Stack-Outside the Box™ - SERC custom designed and and manufactured fuel cell power supply systems for engineering programs at Smith College and Southwestern Community College.

Training - SERC staff assist HSU’s Environmental Resources Engineering department in teaching laboratories and courses both in our facility and elsewhere on campus. SERC has also offered courses for students and community members through HSU Extended Education. In addition to our local classes and trainings, SERC provides hydrogen and fuel cell safety and awareness training and teacher training to audiences nationwide.

United Indian Health Services (UIHS) - In 2007, SERC provided UIHS with quality assurance testing of their newly installed 40 kW solar electric system, a data acquisition system that allows on-site and remote monitoring of the system’s energy production, and an interpretive display that educates clinic visitors about the benefits of solar energy.

University-National Park Energy Partnership Program (UNPEPP) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Projects - In 2000 SERC began collaborating with UNPEPP, which linked national parks with university energy programs all over the United States. Students worked as summer interns in the parks, identifying opportunities to improve energy efficiency or use renewable energy.

Human Capacity Building in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy System Maintenance for the Yurok Tribe - SERC helped the Yurok Tribe Planning Department develop energy needs assessment and planning skills. SERC helped the Tribe hire and train two planning staff people and managed their efforts to conduct an energy needs assessment on the Reservation. This involved energy audits of over fifty Tribal households and multiple government facilities. The project involved the formation of an energy advisory group and included an energy education and outreach campaign.

Tribal Utility Feasibility Study - SERC explored opportunities for the Yurok Tribe to develop its own renewable energy resources for use on the Reservation and/or off-Reservation sales as a means of generating revenue for the Tribe. This included a preliminary renewable energy resource assessment on Yurok Tribal lands. We also looked at ways the Tribe could provide energy services to its members and how to fund such efforts.

Biomass Heating Feasibility Study for the US Forest Service - SERC conducted and energy efficiency audit and examined the feasibility of using a forest biomass fueled heating system for the US Forest Service’s Orleans Ranger District Office. This included an assessment of available biomass heating systems, a preliminary economic analysis, and an assessment of environmental impacts.

CalTrans Energy Analysis - SERC conducted an economic feasibility study of applying renewable energy and energy conservation measures at road maintenance stations in District 1. This included an in-depth look the Garberville highway maintenance station and an extrapolation of the findings to the entire District 1 area.

Fuel Cell Test Station and Fuel Cells for Auburn University - In 2006, SERC engineers delivered a custom hydrogen fuel cell test station and two proton exchange membrane fuel cells to Professor Ben Choi at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. This installation included a state-of- the-art external humidification system for the stack supply air.

Fuel Cell Test Station for Kettering University - SERC teamed with Kettering University to build the school a test stand consisting of four test stations, which can all be operated simultaneously under the control of a single computer and data acquisition system.

Testing Solar Modules for Markets in the Developing World - SERC helped faculty and students from HSU in efforts to ensure the quality of solar modules sold in the Kenyan solar market. The work involved laboratory testing at SERC as well as field testing of solar equipment in Kenya.

Humboldt County Energy Element (1.6MB PDF) - As part of a local consulting team, SERC developed an Energy Element for Humboldt County’s General Plan Update. SERC prepared a background technical report that assessed energy loads and energy resources, and provided policy recommendations for the General Plan update. The report addressed electricity, heating and transportation energy use and examined a full array of local renewable energy resources, including biomass, wind, wave, solar, biogas, and small hydro.

Yurok Photovoltaic System - In the summer of 2004, SERC collaborated with the Yurok Tribe to install a demonstration solar electric system at a residence in a remote location with no access to utility electric power. The system is nominally rated at 1.5 kW DC and is designed to produce an average of 4.5 kWh per day.

Assessment of Hydrogen Storage for Wind Energy - On behalf of the Morgan Family Foundation, SERC conducted a feasibility study on the use of off-peak wind energy to generate and store hydrogen and subsequently convert it back into electrical power during electric utility peak demand periods.

Fuel Cell Test Station for the University of Michigan - SERC’s first fuel cell test station made to order for a client. The University of Michigan’s mechanical engineering department now uses the test station and a SERC fuel cell to develop control and diagnostic systems for vehicular fuel cell power.

Lollapalooza - Throughout the summer of 2003, SERC engineer Nate Coleman demonstrated and showcased our Stack-in-a-Box® system to hundreds of thousands of Lollapalooza concertgoers nationwide.

Zweig Education Building Fuel Cell System - SERC designed and installed a 2 kW stationary fuel cell power system to provide power for lighting and audio-visual equipment for a conference room at SunLine Transit. The demonstration system is integrated into an interactive display that allows visitors to view all the working components of the fuel cell power system. The system allows a seamless transfer between grid power and fuel cell power. It is designed to be safe, easy to operate, visually attractive and educationally stimulating.

PEM Electrolysis - With funding from the California Energy Commission’s Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) program, SERC designed, built, and tested a prototype high pressure proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer.

Methanol-fired Fuel Cell System - SERC developed this 1 kW PEM fuel cell system to be used as an off-grid household-scale power system at a site in Alaska. The input fuel for this system is methanol, from which hydrogen is derived from a reformer.

Biogas Energy Assessment for Humboldt County Dairies (332K PDF) - With funding from a State of California Community Development Block Grant, SERC engineers conducted a year-long study on the feasibility of implementing anaerobic digestion (AD) technology as a means of dairy manure management and biogas energy production on Humboldt County dairy farms.

Energy Efficiency Services for Humboldt County (356K PDF) - SERC assisted with an energy cost reduction assessment for Humboldt County water and wastewater utility districts. SERC engineers visited and communicated with the operators of Humboldt County’s water and wastewater plants, collected data on the facilities, and prepared reports. SERC helped RCEA develop and deliver an energy efficiency workshop for water and wastewater plants. SERC also developed a series of fact sheets on energy efficiency measures suitable for residential and commercial buildings in Humboldt County.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Assessment for Humboldt County (618K PDF) - Under contract to the Humboldt Energy Task Force (HETF), SERC investigated options for providing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy education programs for local residents. The final report discussed opportunities for energy education, electric load reduction, weatherization, solar hot water systems, and solar electric systems for Humboldt County residents. The report also explored economic, regulatory, and utility issues of relevance to HETF. SERC also conducted separate studies on residential solar photovoltaic systems (PDF; 197K), residential solar hot water systems (PDF; 213K), and residential energy efficiency and energy education (PDF; 135K).

The Power of Change Radio Show - In conjunction with Humboldt State University’s KHSU radio station, SERC produced “The Power of Change,” a series of informational interviews on energy use, home energy conservation, and other environmental topics.

Remote Telecommunications at School House Peak - Until recently, telephone service for the Yurok tribe of the Klamath River Valley was provided by a system of solar-powered radio repeater stations. SERC designed and installed a fuel cell system to provide backup power for the most critical link in the telecommunications network. At night and during periods of cloudy weather, the fuel cell powered the 100-Watt microwave repeater. The fuel cell logged over 8,000 run-time hours while providing backup power for nearly four years.

Stack-in-a-Box® - The first Stack-in-a-Box® portable fuel cell power system was built by SERC in 1999 for Sandia National Laboratory. To date SERC has manufactured and delivered six Stack-in-a-Box® units. It is capable of providing 75-watts of continuous 120 VAC power and is designed to allow people of all ages and backgrounds to learn how fuel cells work. School-age students, as well as industry specialists, quickly become comfortable operating the system, which has proven to be an effective educational tool.

Rural Alaska Power Project - This project produced a self-contained 3 kW fuel cell system designed to provide all the electric power necessary for a remote, off-grid household in rural Alaska.

Palm Desert Renewable Hydrogen Transportation Project - This project demonstrated a clean and sustainable transportation system for a community and encompassed the entire cycle from energy production to end-use (transportation). The Schatz Hydrogen Generation Center located in Thousand Palms, CA, is a complete hydrogen production, compression, storage and dispensing facility. The facility provided compressed hydrogen for use in the SERC hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles operated by SunLine Transit and the City of Palm Desert. SERC produced four fuel cell-powered golf carts and a neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV), the first street-ready fuel cell car in the United States.

Schatz Solar Hydrogen Project - Since 1989, the Schatz solar hydrogen project has been demonstrating that solar hydrogen is a reliable and abundant energy source that is ready for use today. Solar energy is stored in the form of hydrogen to provide nighttime power for an air compressor that aerates fish aquariums at HSU’s Telonicher Marine Laboratory in Trinidad, California. This facility, designed and installed by SERC staff, features a 9.2-kW solar electric array, 7.2-kW alkaline electrolyzer, hydrogen storage, fuel cell, and an automated control system. It has introduced thousands of visitors to the promise of renewably produced hydrogen energy and fuel cells as clean and sustainable technologies.