University of South Carolina
The Promise of Hydrogen

Centers of Fuel Cells


The National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Fuel Cells is a partnership between the University and industrial members. It is the nation's only NSF-sponsored fuel cell center, established in 2003 to foster the commercialization of fuel-cell technologies.

The center's mission is to help industry advance the technology and commercialization of fuel cells by performing research in five areas:

  1. fuel cell design

  2. fuel cell performance

  3. hydrogen storage materials, devices, and distribution systems

  4. catalysts and materials for hydrogen production and electrodes

  5. motor design and power conditioning.

Student opportunity, faculty expertise

In addition, one of the NSF's central purposes is to educate graduate and undergraduate students with expertise in these five areas. The center also benefits students by providing them with industrial direction, an industrial appreciation for the opportunities of the technology, and exposure to some of the best scientific minds in these research areas.

John W. Van Zee directs the center and is a chemical engineering professor at Carolina who studies fuel cells with experimental and computational methods. The center builds on the strength of the electrochemical engineering and catalysis groups in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Carolina. The expertise of researchers in other departments can be used, depending on the projects suggested by industry.

Who's Who of industry partners

The center's industrial members support graduate student research through annual membership dues. The center currently has working relationships with about two dozen past and current members, including Boeing, Dow Corning Corporation, DuPont Fuel Cells, and Fujifilm Manufacturing. Benefits of the center for an industrial member are numerous and include:

  1. access to the best-trained and best-educated scientists and engineers in the area of fuel cells

  2. access to low-cost pre-competitive research 3. opportunity to leverage research and risk

  3. opportunity to leverage research and risk

  4. access to pre-published data and design reports. Industrial members have access to intellectual property developed in the center, and the opportunity to drive its research agenda.

Fuel Cell Centers