University of Connecticut Vice President for Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Dr. Radenka Maric has been inducted as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellow.
“I have been honored for distinguished contribution to the field of clean energy,” Maric said.
Maric has worked since her completion of graduate school to replace traditional internal combustion engines with more energy-efficient alternatives like fuel cells, she said. She was nominated by three of her colleagues to become an AAAS fellow, and was formally inducted earlier this year.
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“I [made] the breakthroughs by inventing the nobel synthesis process that helps in [the] reduction of materials and optimizing interfaces to get the higher power out of the fuel cells,” Maric said. “So now you have less material and more power so the cost of the fuel cells will go down if you have less noble materials and more power.”
Hydrogen fuel cells are one alternative to a traditional internal combustion engine. Similar to how electric cars like Teslas require a charging station to be powered, Maric said a fuel cell vehicle society would require stations to put refill your car with hydrogen.
“The difference from an electric car is the electrical cars needs to be charged,” Maric said. “The fuel cell car, the infrastructure is in place when you put the hydrogen in your car.”
In addition to vehicles, Maric said the idea can be transferred to power other things, too, which is being experimented with in Japan.
“It can serve as a generator for your house, a huge benefit that people don’t understand,” Maric said. “It can replace your diesel or natural gas generator. When you plug it you can generate electricity.”
Maric’s goal is to make this more affordable and available to everyone in the future.
“These are going to replace the combustion engines in cars,” Maric said. “It is an energy converter and energy storage, instead of using fossil fuels … we are still working on reducing the costs of materials and of the processes to give it more power. For now, it’s very expensive. Down the road, like any car, when we have the volume and the material of the technology we can reduce the cost and [the technology can] be applied to scooters and cheaper cars.”
Maric received funding from both the United States Department of Energy and the private sector to complete this project, she said.
“We already work[ing] on the technology transfer agreement so if we are successful they are going to license the technology from UConn,” Maric said.
While this area of research is common, Maric said she is working on advancing it even further.
“Everyone in manufacturing is working on this technology,” Maric said. “I’m just one that is addressing that there is more durability and to make it cheaper.”
Researchers must be “scientifically or socially distinguished” in their field and be a continuous member of the society for four years leading up to the nomination in order to be eligible for the fellowship, according to the AAAS website.
Luke Hajdasz is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.