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Campus Fuel Cell project unveiled

l-r: Dr. Harry McDonald, Chair of Excellence in Computational
Engineering, SimCenter; K. R. Sridhar, President of Ion America;
Dr. Ronald Bailey, Dean of the UTC College of Engineering and
Computer Science; Congressman Zach Wamp.

In the quest to position The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as a national leader in technology, Chancellor Roger Brown joined Congressman Zach Wamp in the public unveiling and demonstration of a campus fuel cell project that could meet the goals of energy independence outlined by President Bush in his State of the Union Address.

Through the federally funded research project, the UT SimCenter at Chattanooga will independently test the fuel cell performance in terms of compliance with Department of Energy standards and long-term usage. This project bodes well with Chancellor Roger Brown’s vision of state-of-the-art degree programs in both content and equipment.

“Mastering math and science maximizes opportunities in technology. I will strive to make UTC’s programs in math, science and technology the strongest in the state and comparable with any in the country,” Brown told an audience of faculty, staff, students and friends of the University Thursday night in his State of the University address.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield and Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey also attended the kickoff of this project, which represents Congressman Wamp’s vision for making the Tech Corridor the center of development for America’s alternative energy supply. The project gains even greater importance as uncertainty surrounds the world’s oil supply.

Congresman Zach Wamp and
Chancellor Roger G. Brown

The fuel cell at the SimCenter runs on natural gas and produces electricity and hydrogen. Similar units have proven to be nearly twice as efficient in the production of electricity as a conventional coal or gas powered electric power plant. The fuel cell project is an engineering development unit, with expectations for production several years in the future. The unit is expected to cost the same as diesel powered generator per kilowatt.

Fuel cell developer Ion America of Mountain View, California hopes to next produce a commercial unit capable of powering the electricity needs of the University.

Wamp said the company will need $6 million for future research and development, and he will request Congressional assistance to help fund the commercial demonstration.

For more information, please call: Dr. Harry McDonald, Chair of Excellence in Computational Engineering, Dr. Dave Whitfield, Director, UT SimCenter at Chattanooga, Dr. Jim Henry, Professor, UTC Chemical & Environmental Engineering faculty, and Suminder Singh, Project Manager at Ion America at (423)425-5497.

February 28, 2006

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