The University of Akron’s Board of Trustees have approved the establishment of the FirstEnergy Advanced Energy Research Center at UA, which will focus on the development of carbon dioxide capture technologies that may soon be used by fossil-fueled power plants and the development of coal-based fuel cells for commercial use. The center will be housed at UA’s College of Engineering in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and includes the disciplines of mechanical engineering and electrical engineering.
The University received an initial seed fund of $2 million from FirstEnergy Corp. in 2008 to accelerate the research and development efforts on carbon capture and coal-based fuel cell technologies, which have been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Ohio Coal Development Office and led by Dr. Steven Chuang, UA professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.
FirstEnergy President and Chief Executive Officer Anthony J. Alexander and UA President Luis M. Proenza applauded the official formation of the center, which is dedicated to the research and development of efficient electric power generation technology with minimum CO2 emissions.
“The University has a long tradition of technologies research in general and energy studies in particular, including the areas of carbon capture and coal-based fuel cells,” said Alexander. “We are proud to help build on this strong foundation and we are hopeful that our contribution will inspire others to support the University’s important work in energy research.”
Proenza agreed, and credited UA’s renown in the research and development of new energy technologies.
“The University of Akron is known globally for our cutting-edge research into new materials and technologies that help accelerate knowledge creation and economic development,” Proenza said. “We are most grateful to FirstEnergy and to all of our outstanding faculty for their partnership and hard work in advancing this important research that will strengthen our region and benefit our nation.”
The initial seed fund of $2 million from FirstEnergy was used to establish facilities and staffing to accelerate research. The proposals resulting from this seed fund have further attracted funding from highly competitive programs of the U.S. Department of Energy as well as the steam generation equipment leader, The Babcock & Wilcox Company.
While continuing to work on currently funded projects, the center plans to continue to seek additional funding from federal and state agencies by building teams of academic and industrial researchers, the Dean of the College of Engineering George K. Haritos said.
The University also plans to expand the center’s work over time to include development of new, smart electric grid technologies needed for end-use efficiency, demand response, distributed generation, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and energy storage, as well as such advanced generation technologies as renewables, clean-coal, biomass materials and other low- or zero-emissions technologies.
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