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spacer spacer spacer spacer March 26, 2009
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RIT, Delphi to receive $2.4 million

Initiative seeks to create fuel-cell technology for commercial and military applications

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At a March 13 press conference, U.S. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, above, announced new funding for RIT's research partnership with Delphi Inc. Pictured with Slaughter is Steve Shaffer, chief fuel-cell engineer at Delphi.

A. Sue Weisler

United States Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, chairwoman of the House Committee on Rules, recently announced $2.4 million in federal funding she secured in fiscal-year 2009 appropriations for RIT and Delphi’s joint efforts to develop a cost-effective method to manufacture fuel-cell auxiliary power units. With this initiative, project researchers believe Delphi’s work may lead to the first commercially produced solid oxide fuel-cell unit to hit the market by as soon as 2012.

“I am proud to have secured federal funding to help make Rochester the world center for fuel-cell research, fuel-cell development, and ultimately fuel-cell manufacturing,” says. Slaughter. “I applaud Delphi Corp. and RIT on their successes to advance local fuel-cell development, a mission with tremendous potential for our nation’s energy security and Rochester’s economic future.”

Delphi has produced a prototype solid oxide fuel cell, a unit that produces electricity by “harvesting” hydrogen from diesel, biofuel or natural gas. The fuel cell achieves up to 40 percent more power than the traditional combustion engine. At the same time, RIT engineers have been working to identify options to minimize fuel-cell life-cycle costs. Delphi and RIT have come together to merge their researchers and resources to develop a cost-effective way to mass-produce Delphi’s fuel-cell technology.

“This important collaborative research program with Delphi further strengthens the region’s assets in sustainability and alternative energy, and reinforces RIT’s commitment to innovation and our unique approach to corporate partnerships,” adds RIT President Bill Destler. “We especially appreciate Congresswoman Slaughter’s vision in sponsoring this initiative, and her longstanding efforts on behalf of RIT and the greater community.”

“Together, Delphi and RIT are addressing major challenges that prevent fuel-cell applications from increasing soldiers’ capabilities, supporting environmental policies and reducing dependence on foreign energy sources,” says Dan Hennessy, Delphi’s chief engineer for Divisional Advanced Engineering.

“Thanks to the support of Congresswoman Slaughter, our research partnership with Delphi will enhance the development and implementation of alternative fuel technologies while also promoting RIT’s educational mission in sustainable production and renewable energy,” notes Nabil Nasr, assistant provost for academic affairs and director of the Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies at RIT.

The Delphi/RIT project is of keen interest to the Department of Defense which would like to eventually implement this technology into its equipment. Additionally, the technology has significant potential for commercial applications.

In making the announcement, Slaughter and Destler were joined by Nasr, Steve Shaffer, chief engineer for fuel-cell development, Delphi Powertrain Systems Division, and Dan Maloney, president of United Auto Workers, Local 1097, which represents the regional Delphi workforce.

Over the last three years Slaughter has secured $6.4 million to support the development of RIT’s fuel-cell research capacity and the partnership with Delphi.

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Will Dube

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