Engineering

People, prosperity, and the planet

People, prosperity, and the planet
P3 Champs: Red shirts are Ross Pimentel '12, left, and Sutyen Zalawadia '12. Standing left to right are: Sandeep Lele '12, Mike Sizemore '12, Sapaan Shah '11, M.S. '13, Jeffrey Schwartz '12, and Aitor Zabalegui '10, M.S. '13. Photo by Charles Barry
by Connie Coutain and Heidi Williams '06 |
A new fuel-cell design brings top honors to student engineers.

Some 1.6 billion people around the world lack access to electricity. So a team of SCU student engineers has come up with a robust, off-the-grid solution that could make a difference, combining solar-and fuel-cell technology. What they came up with—the proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMeFC)—is a design innovative enough to bring top honors from the Environmental Protection Agency’s P3 competition in Washington, D.C., this past April.

SCU students led by senior Michael Sizemore '12 developed “a brand-new clean-energy system designed solely by us,” he says. They competed against 40-odd colleges and universities, earning bragging rights and a $90,000 award from the EPA to help advance their design and move it into the marketplace. The team began its work under the guidance of engineering faculty member Dan Strickland, who was tragically killed in a car accident last fall. Shoba Krishnan, associate professor of electrical engineering, then stepped in to serve as faculty advisor.

Read more about the team in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The team devised a fuel-cell system that generates electricity from hydrogen and oxygen source tanks. Photovoltaic panels provide power for electrolysis, running the fuel cell in reverse to resupply the fuel tanks—and simultaneously to provide power. The plan is to implement the system in SCU’s Solar Decathlon houses and to work with BlueEnergy in Nicaragua to provide rural, off-grid power.

Spring 2014

Table of contents

Features

Radiant house

Building a house for the 2013 Solar Decathlon. That, and changing the world.

Américas cuisine

Telling a delicious tale of food and family with chef David Cordúa ’04.

Lessons from the field

Taut and tranquil moments in Afghanistan—an essay in words and images.

Mission Matters

Carried with compassion

The Dalai Lama’s first visit to Santa Clara.

Farther afield

Building safer houses in Ecuador. Research on capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica. Helping empower girls in The Gambia. And this is just the beginning for the Johnson Scholars Program.

What connects us

The annual State of the University address, including some fabulous news for the arts and humanities. And the announcement of Santa Clara 2020, a new vision for the University.