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RE: Gas or Electric (and a suggestion on where to go to if you'reinterested in h2, fuel cells, etc)

Interesting how this discussion on lawnmowers has shifted gears to a discussion
of hydrogen, fuel cells, and the like.  Just goes to show how eclectic (not to
mention electric) the P2TECH crowd's interests really are.  I guess in counter
to Bob's comment, though -- I would argue that commercial acceptance of fuel
cell technology is quite solid.  As a Laboratory, we are working with a wide
array of industrial partners on fuel cell technologies ranging from materials
science issues, to engineering of full-blown systems, to applications of
microscale technology to the various system components (heat exchange, fuel
reformers, etc).   These partners are making significant investments in
technology related to fuel cells and their applications. And a few companies
like Ballard Power Systems (a Canadian firm) are doing quite well with
commercial deployment, and I think you'll see a lot more in the next 3-5 years.

However, my main intent was not to argue the fine points.  Rather, I would be
remiss in my duties as chair of the Environmental Division of the American
Institute of Chemical Engineers if I didn't suggest that those of you who have
been following these discussions with interest consider attending the upcoming
Spring National Meeting of the AIChE, taking place in New Orleans on March
10-14, 2002.

Of the 100+ technical sessions being presented, there are quite a few of
relevance to technologists working in fuel cells, alternative energy, and green

First of all, there are 14 technical sessions on Fuel Cells, as part of the Fuel
Cell Topical Conference organized by Godwin Igwe of DuPont:

* Plenary Keynote Session - Fuel Cell Technology: Opportunities and Challenges 
* Environmental Impact of Fuel Cell Technologies 
* Fuel Cell Technology: An Overview 
* Fuel Processing Session I 
* Modeling Fuel Cell Systems I 
* Fuel Cell Modeling II 
* Fuel Processing Session II 
* Poster Session 
* Membrane and Electrode Assemblies 
* Fuel Processing Session III 
* Bipolar Plates 
* Stack Technology 
* Membranes 
* Heat Exchange Problems in Fuel Cell Systems 

For the policy oriented folks, there are three sessions in AIChE's Inagural
"Critical Issues Forum" program:

* Critial Issues #1 - Forum on Global Climate Change 
* Critical Issues #2 - Forum on Alternative Energy Options 
* Critical Issues #3 - Forum on the Future of Nuclear Power 

Four sessions on the Chemical Engineering response to carbon management and
global climate:

* Responding to Climate Change--Green Separations Engineering 
* Responding to Climate Change--Green Chemistry and Reaction Engineering 
* Responding to Climate Change--Renewable Technologies and New Frontiers 
* Carbon Management--Case Studies and Challenges for the Chemical Industry 

Three sessions on process improvement, from an industrial perspective:

* Process Improvements in Existing Processes I & II
* Implementing Innovation in the Manufacturing Setting 

One session on Sustainability (we had quite a few more last spring, and will
have more this fall):

* Promoting Sustainability through Innovative Product and Process Development

Last, but not least, a session entitled: 

* Hydrogen Production and Nuclear Power.

This last one is particularly important in light of the current discussion,
because the largely (though not entirely) overlooked point in the discussion
thus far, is that H2 is only an energy carrier, not an energy source.  You still
need to produce it from some form of energy, and while my personal bias is
towards solar, it is hard to envision a practical hydrogen economy that doesn't
rely on nuclear power at least as a transition source.  

details on these sessions, registration info, etc are all available online at: 

If you decide to attend, I hope you'll look for me there, and introduce
yourself.  I always like putting faces to the P2TECH names....

Scott Butner (butner@battelle.org) 
Senior Research Scientist, Environmental Technology Division
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
MS K6-04
PO Box 999, Richland, WA  99352
(509)-372-4946 voice/(509)-372-4995 fax