UCI provides a 'bridge' for nation's first hybrid electric fuel-cell vehicles

November 18, 2002

Irvine, Calif., Nov. 18, 2002 - The future of environmentally friendly personal transportation may not be far off, thanks to a new UC Irvine energy and transportation research collaboration with Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc., centering on the lease of the Toyota FCHV, a hydrogen fuel-cell, electric-hybrid vehicle.

While practical fuel-cell vehicles are many years away from commercial introduction, UCI will work with Toyota to introduce fuel-cell-powered vehicles into public use and to study how the vehicles are used. Toyota has selected the National Fuel Cell Research Center (NFCRC) for this global introduction of the next-generation automobile to provide a "bridge" for eventual commercial introduction and to help develop a fueling infrastructure. The UCI center is at the forefront of fuel-cell research, development and implementation.

"Today marks the introduction of two major paradigms, a revolutionary new 'engine' for the automobile and the next-generation vehicle fuel," said Scott Samuelsen, professor of mechanical, aerospace and environmental engineering in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center. "The NFCRC has mobilized a unique alliance to 'ignite' the future and meet the challenges and opportunities that lie on the horizon for the motoring public."

Further information on the Toyota-UCI agreement will be available at a Monday, Dec. 2, press conference at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, adjacent to the UCI campus.

The Toyota FCHV vehicle, based on the Highlander mid-sized SUV model, generates electricity by splitting hydrogen molecules, producing only water vapor emissions. Needing only hydrogen for fuel, the vehicle will offer performance similarly to conventional gas-powered vehicles.

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering encompasses five departments: biomedical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, chemical engineering and materials science, electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical and aerospace engineering. The school also is home to numerous research centers, including the Center for Pervasive Communications, National Fuel Cell Research Center and Center for Biomedical Engineering. It is a major participant in the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, which supports alternative transportation research programs such as ZEV•NET.

About the National Fuel Cell Research Center

The mission of the National Fuel Cell Research Center (NFCRC), a research unit housed within The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, is to promote and support the genesis of a fuel-cell industry by providing technological leadership within a vigorous program of research, development and demonstration. As a nonprofit site for the objective evaluation and improvement of industrial products, NFCRC is committed to becoming a focal point for advancing fuel-cell technology. By supporting industrial research and development, creating partnerships with state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy and California Energy Commission, and overcoming key technical obstacles to fuel-cell utilization, the NFCRC can become an invaluable technological incubator for the fuel-cell industry. For more information: http://www.nfcrc.uci.edu.
Tom Vasich

A complete archive of press releases is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.today.uci.edu

University of California - Irvine

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