Florida Institute Creates Fuel Cell Research Center

October 26, 2004 by Jeff Shepard

Led by physicist Dr. Mary Helen McCay, nine Florida Institute of Technology scientists and engineers are joining forces to create the university's first hydrogen fuel cell research center. Boosted by a $900,000 federal appropriation made possible by US Rep. Dave Weldon and NASA, the new center brings together researchers from a variety of professional backgrounds.

McCay, a specialist in the material sciences and metallurgy, said it is this diversity that will make the center unique. "The real strength of our group is that it is truly interdisciplinary. We have formed because of a common interest in hydrogen. You have people who look at a problem from all different angles, and I think this ability will make the group successful. We want to take this funding and build a sound foundation to become a major player in hydrogen-related and fuel-cell-related technology. We've long had the faculty expertise in a number of important areas, but this funding will allow us to focus our collective efforts."

The first project for the center will be the completion of the university's E-Plane, an airplane that flies using power from hydrogen fuel cells. The student-driven project, once completed, will represent a bold stroke in aeronautics and for the center as well.