CAE’s Du Acquires $485,000 Grant for Metal 3D Printer

Yanhai Du, Ph.D, acquired the largest grant award in Kent State’s College of Aeronautics and Engineering (CAE) history when the U.S. Office of Naval Research invested in his “Laser-Sintering System for Research on Additive Manufacturing of Advanced Fuel Cells.”

The $485,000 award came in the summer of 2017 for CAE’s associate professor, but only recently has his vision for the funding been put into motion. A new laboratory with safety elements to house a 3D metal printing machine is currently under construction. This equipment complements the college’s Stratasys Objet260 Connex3 3D polymer printer, purchased with a grant from the State of Ohio. In a February 2018 review, MIT identified 3D metal printing as the leader of 10 identified breakthrough technologies in 2018.

“This new equipment enables us to use cutting-edge technology to 3D-print advanced high energy efficiency fuel cells,” Du said. “Our students will be using this equipment in part, to create fuel cells.”

Ohio is among the top five fuel cell states in the nation and Du is ensuring Kent State students have hands-on experience working with different fuel cell designs and putting their creations to work. The student-lead zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) project turns heads as its fuel cell power takes it through campus.

The ZEV is a six-seater golf cart powered by a solar panel roof and batteries. Batteries are charged by the solar panel and a fuel cell. When the cart is not in use, we can use the electricity generated from the solar panel may be used to electrolyze water, and convert and store solar energy into hydrogen. The fuel cell charge part is performed off-board in phase 1 of the project. Students will continue working on the project under the direction of Du.

“Students’ involvement in research doesn't only enhance their learning and apply their knowledge; it’s a platform for inspiration, a channel to success in life” Du added.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) wrote in a report released this week, that mankind has about a decade to avoid permanent, dramatic weather changes due to global warming.

The world’s percentage of electricity from renewable energy such as solar and wind power would have to jump from the current 24 percent to about 60 percent. This staggering reality makes Du’s research infinitely valuable.

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POSTED: Thursday, October 25, 2018 - 10:06am
UPDATED: Friday, January 11, 2019 - 4:21pm