Fuel Cell presentation by Merit Academy, Santa Cruz, CA

Back on May 1st, 1999, I attended a presentation by the students of Merit
Academy of their 250W fuel cell. (This is the same group I posted about
here a few weeks ago.)

I was very impressed with their overall knowledge about fuel cells, and the
work they'd done on their presentation. I spoke at length with one of the
students, Joanne Arguello, and invited her and her partners to join the
fuel-cells mailing list, as well as offered to make up a flyer for them to
distribute at future talks they give. I think this may help to take the
topic of fuel cells from the "Gee Whiz! That's a neat thing!" stage, to the 
"How can I get involved and learn more about this?" stage. 
	If people just see it as an oddity, and forget about it for 5 years, 
then they won't be well informed about the technology, and can't put
pressure on automakers and power producers to start putting more research
into this tech. 
	However, if each time people see this thing running, they also see
that there's an active community they can get involved with, then we'll
perhaps start bringing more folks in, who can all begin spreading the word,
and sharing news and info that we find. 

	The fuel cell they have was all hand-built with custom parts by the
engineers at the Schatz Energy Research Center, and thus carried a price
tag of something around $8000. Obviously, manufacturing and mass-production
will bring this price down, and Ballard already has a very neat looking 1Kw
fuel cell that they're in beta-test with right now. (I've put in a call to
try and get on their beta program.) It's about the size of a large toaster,
perhaps a bit bigger. 

	Another interesting thing I learned was that the girls from Merit
Academy apparently had a great deal of trouble getting any help or
constructive info from Ballard, or most of the fuel-cell research places
they contacted. I personally find that very disappointing and sad. To cite
things like "trade secrets" and "intellectual property" and refuse to help
students learn about these technologies seems like shooting themselves in
the foot. 

	Anyway, the presentation was great, I've asked for copies of their
papers, and hope to see them on the list here in the future. Perhaps they
can post their papers here for all to read. Their work was very impressive!

	   ___________________Think For Yourself____________________
	 Patrick G. Salsbury - http://reality.sculptors.com/~salsbury/
    Check out the Reality Sculptors Project: http://reality.sculptors.com/
       Many years ago, I first drank from the Well of Knowledge. Now, I
maintain the pumps on that Well, so that others may also quench their thirst.

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