Contact: Joe King, Office of Public Affairs
October 7, 2004
The $745,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration will enable NIU to partner with internationally respected researchers at Argonne National Laboratory to jumpstart research efforts into fuel cells. Any advances made at the university could contribute to the creation of commercially viable fuel cells to power cars, buses and other vehicles and to create new ways of generating electricity for use in homes and industry.
“This is an important area of research that we are excited to enter,” said NIU President John Peters. “We are extremely grateful to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Congresswoman Judy Biggert, R-Ill., who were instrumental in helping us secure this funding."
This one-year grant will allow the university to set up a lab and begin collaborative research efforts that will draw upon the skills of scientists from the university’s
“The partnership with
Vohra said he is hopeful that this grant is the first of many. In the not too distant future, he said, the university hopes to expand the fuel cell project to include the purchase of a test vehicle—most likely a bus—which could be operated on campus to evaluate new developments and to increase awareness of fuel cell technology.
Fuel cells, which were first discovered more than 150 years ago, use an electrochemical process to convert hydrogen gas into electricity. The primary byproduct created by fuel cells is water. While they are becoming increasingly common, work remains to make them commercially viable on a large scale.
“A breakthrough in this technology would address important national concerns, perhaps ultimately freeing the country from the reliance on foreign oil and dramatically reducing air pollution,” Vohra points out.
Those benefits were among the reasons that Hastert was willing to champion the cause of NIU researchers anxious to enter this field.
“Fuel cells hold tremendous potential as a new, renewable and non-polluting source of energy for
The grant helps keep
“This grant will help our scientists move our nation closer to the goal of reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources," said Biggert, Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science. "By bringing together NIU's talent and
NIU professors joining Vohra on the project include Anima Bose, an adjunct associate professor in mechanical engineering, who will serve as associate director of the project; Pradip Majumdar, a professor in mechanical engineering; Petr Vanysek, an associate professor of chemistry and Brogdan Dabrowski a professor in physics.