A South Carolina School has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to house a research center that’s expected to bring in $12.5 million in federal research funding. That will be the largest award in the history of the University of South Carolina. The center is one of 31 Energy Frontier Research Centers being established by D.O.E. at U.S. universities.It’s led by Dr. Ken Reifsnider(REEFS-snider), an internationally recognized researcher in solid-oxide fuel cells. He says the university will concentrate on designing and creating materials essential for engineering devices such as fuel cells, combustion devices, and functional membranes and coatings. “We trying to use these materials to get into the future. To use different fuels, for example. These are high-temperature devices, so we can use different things to fuel our cell phones, even automobiles. It doesn’t have to be hydrogen, but can be synthetic fuel from coal. We don’t get get any pollution, and have the advantage of using fuels we have, rather than buying from over seas.”
Reifsnider says this is a way to advance science as well as U.S.C.’s research program. “This was acknowledgement from the people who reviewed this competitive grant that was submitted along with several others. It was picked out of that group on the basis of its promise and the qualities of the people involved. This helps us to recruit, helps our area and region to develop energy science and technology.”
Reifsnider says the award is the culmination of a 20-year dream to find answers to fundamental questions about materials used in energy systems.