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01/27/2003 08:00:00

Fuel Cells: Powering Progress in the 21st Century

PASADENA, Calif. – Continuing tensions in the Middle East make it clear that we face long-term challenges in meeting our ever increasing energy demands, while still maintaining the quality of our natural environment and ensuring our national security. Fuel cells offer a possible solution, but, before they meet their potential, many technical hurdles remain.

On Wednesday, January 29, Dr. Sossina M. Haile, an associate professor of materials science at the California Institute of Technology, will provide a brief overview of current fuel cell technology, then discuss her own work in this promising area. Whereas the most common type of fuel cell--the kind that powers prototype cars--is a polymer electrolyte fuel cell, Haile is taking a different tack, developing an alternative type of fuel cell based on a so-called solid acid.

Haile will describe the recent breakthroughs in this new technology and the challenges that remain. The ultimate goal, of course, is that such engineering in materials science may someday mean a fuel cell in your automobile, your laptop, or your home.

Caltech has offered the Watson Lecture Series for almost 80 years, since it was conceived by the late Caltech physicist Earnest Watson as a way to explain science to the local community. The lecture will take place at 8 p.m. in Beckman Auditorium, which is located near Michigan Avenue south of Del Mar Boulevard, on Caltech's campus in Pasadena. Seating is available on a free, no-ticket-required, first-come, first-served basis, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Parking is available in the lots south of Del Mar Boulevard between Wilson and Chester Avenues, and in the parking structures at 341 and 405 South Wilson and 370 South Holliston Avenue.

For more information, call 1(888) 2CALTECH (1-888-222-5832) or (626) 395-4652. Persons with disabilities: (626)-395-4688 (voice) or (626)-395-3700 (TDD).