With environmental quality and the U.S. dependence on foreign oil creating mounting concerns, members of both the public and private sectors are looking at fuel cells as a potential long-term solution.The Woodlands, Texas – April 28, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] A group of 14 corporations, regulatory agencies and universities will work together in support of a program at the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) to evaluate the performance of stationary fuel cell systems. BP, California Air Resources Board, California Power Authority, ChevronTexaco, Ecce Energy Corporation, San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E), Shell Hydrogen, South Coast Air Quality Management District, Southern California Gas Company, Southern Company, Texas A&M University, Texas State Energy Conservation Office, University of Houston, and Walt Disney Imagineering R&D are sponsors of HARC’s Center for Fuel Cell Research and Applications for the 2003 program year. The Center’s work will provide sponsors with engineering data regarding fuel cell operations and the commercial and industrial applications where they can be used. “As fuel cell products come to market, potential users of the technology need detailed operational data,” said Dan Bullock, HARC program manager. “The center allows industry members to participate in and learn from system testing and demonstration projects, at a fraction of the cost of doing it themselves.” The center plans to evaluate a full range of performance metrics, including overall system efficiency, continuous power capability, power quality, performance degradation, fuel consumption, load following capability, failure modes, component wear, reformer and stack emissions, maintenance requirements, and technical support requirements. In addition, researchers will consider the impact of temperature, humidity, and salt air on the performance and cost of operating fuel cells in sub-tropical and coastal climates.