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About CFCR
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Prof Prasad

CFCR Director
Dr. Ajay K. Prasad

Professor
Telephone:(302) 831-2960
Fax: (302) 831-3619
E-mail: prasad@udel.edu

Dr. Prasad's personal homepage

UD Center for Fuel Cell Research Mission

  • To promote basic and applied research to improve fundamental understanding of fuel cells, and address critical barriers to commercialization
  • To provide students with the opportunity to participate in fuel cell research and demonstration projects
  • To support companies engaged in the development of fuel cells, as well as hydrogen production, storage and distribution
  • To create an opportunity for national and international recognition and a platform for economic growth in Delaware
UD Fuel Cell Bus
  • Phase 1: 22-ft bus, 20 kW stack, Ni-Cad batteries (in operation since spring 2007, 100 students/day)
  • Phase 2: 22-ft bus, 40 kW stack, Ni-Cad batteries (in operation since fall 2009, 100 students/day)
  • Phase 3: 30-ft bus, 40 kW stack, Li-Ti batteries (delivery 2010)
  • Phase 4: 30-ft bus, 40 kW stack, Li-Ti batteries (delivery 2011)
    • H2 refueling station in Newark since 2007
    • Two more H2 stations planned for
      Wilmington and Dover

Organization

  • The UD Center for Fuel Cell Research is part of the University of Delaware's commitment to be a leading resource for innovative energy technologies under the 'umbrella' of the University of Delaware Energy Institute (UDEI).  UDEI is the driving force for interdisciplinary research and education on alternative energy at the University and encompasses a number of prominent Institutes and Centers on campus, including the CFCR.  The CFCR is housed in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the UD College of Engineering.

Objectives
  • The CFCR conducts fundamental research on fuel cell and hydrogen infrastructure science and technology to improve performance and durability with novel materials, architectures and operating strategies, while enabling commercialization with technology transfer to industry.  The Center also conducts public outreach to educate the community about the benefits of fuel cells.

What are fuel cells?

  • Fuel cells convert the energy contained in a fuel directly to electricity by combining it electrochemically with an oxidant.  Thus fuel cells are like batteries, except that they will continue to produce electrical power as long as they are supplied with fuel and oxidant.  The product of the hydrogen fuel cell reaction is water, so fuel cells do not produce harmful emissions.  Fuel cells can operate at efficiencies that are substantially higher than internal combustion engines of comparable size.  In addition, they are quiet, do not have moving parts, and can supply power with high reliability.  For these reasons, fuel cells have the potential to solve several major challenges facing the world today: dependence on petroleum imports, poor air quality, and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Fuel cells have three main application areas: automotive (cars and buses), stationary power (residential and commercial), and portable electronics (laptops, cell phones, etc.).  Automotive companies have demonstrated fuel cells for transportation worldwide.  Stationary power supplies are already commercially available.  And, in the near future, it will be possible to power laptops for long durations with fuel cells that use small tanks of fuel that can be easily replaced after use.
  • However, fuel cells face significant challenges before they will find common acceptance; namely, cost, durability, and the lack of a hydrogen infrastructure.  Fuel cell components are expensive today although mass production will reduce costs in the future.  The search for new, less expensive, more durable materials is an active research area.  DOE targets for performance, power density, efficiency, transient response, and durability also represent stiff challenges for research.  Apart from the fuel cell, the technology for producing, storing, transporting, and dispensing hydrogen safely in large quantities also needs to be developed in parallel.

Background for the CFCR:

  • Sustainability has risen to the forefront at the national and state levels, and on UD campus. The CFCR builds on this favorable climate for sustainable energy technologies in general, and fuel cells in particular.
  • About 25 faculty in the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences are engaged in fuel cell research. They have established laboratories for fundamental and applied fuel cell research, attracted a large group of student and post-doctoral researchers, become a visible presence at fuel cell conferences, and published in the top journals in the field. 
  • They have obtained substantial funding from federal (ARL, ARO, ONR, AFOSR, DOE, NSF and FTA), state (DNREC and DEDO), and industry sources (DuPont, WL Gore, Air Liquide, Fuceltech, BP, ACS-PRF, ConocoPhillips, Rohm-Haas, Engelhard/BASF, Praxair, Ballard, EPRI, and EBus). 
  • Our efforts have been strongly supported by our congressional delegations. 
  • The State of Delaware is home to major fuel cell/hydrogen infrastructure corporations including DuPont, WL Gore, Air Liquide, Air Products and Ion Power.
  • The University of Delaware will benefit from a timely confluence of political, industrial and academic agendas centered on fuel cells.
FuelCellBus
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