By Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Tech Director of Public Relations
HOUGHTON -- For their pioneering work to improve water management in low-temperature fuel cells, Jeffrey Allen and his PhD student, Ezequiel Medici, have been named the first winners of the Bhakta Rath Research Award at Michigan Technological University. Allen is an associate professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics.
Michigan Tech Professor Jeff Allen, right, and PhD student Ezequiel Medici are conducting fuel cell research that won them the first Bhakta Rath Research Award. (Photo courtesy Michigan Technological University)
The award, endowed earlier this year by 1958 Michigan Tech alumnus Rath and his wife, Shushama Rath, recognizes a doctoral student at Michigan Tech and his or her faculty advisor for "exceptional research of particular value that anticipates the future needs of the nation while supporting advances in emerging technology." Allen and Medici will share a $2,000 prize.
"We are delighted to recognize Professor Jeff Allen and his accomplished student, Ezequiel Medici, for their outstanding research contribution in the field of mechanical engineering and engineering mechanics," said Rath, who is associate director of research and head of the Materials Science and Component Technology Directorate at the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. "We have no doubt that their seminal contributions will advance the frontiers of our knowledge in the field and contribute to development of new technologies. My wife and I wish to join their family members, friends and colleagues in congratulating the recipients of this award."
When he endowed the award in April, Rath said he hoped it would promote and reward research excellence in the physical and natural sciences and engineering, fields in which Michigan Tech is emerging as a world leader in research and education.
"I am honored and grateful to be one of the inaugural recipients of this prestigious award," Allen said. "However, the credit for the success of this research belongs to Ezequiel."
His graduate student added, "I feel really honored to have our research recognized because of its potential impact on the fuel-cell industry."
Medici and Allen’s research focuses on improving the management of the water produced during the operation of a fuel cell, liquid that leads to performance loss and rapid degradation of the fuel cell, significantly reducing the life of the system. They developed a new technique for optimizing fuel cell electrodes and a simple, reliable computational tool that captures the nature of liquid water movement in fuel cell electrodes. Their work, sponsored by the US Department of Energy and conducted in collaboration with the Rochester Institute of Technology and General Motors, will reduce the research and development time and cost of improving fuel cell performance and durability.
Bill Predebon, Michigan Tech chair of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics, noted the potential importance of Allen and Medici’s work. "The research being conducted by Ezequiel Medici and his advisor Dr. Jeffrey Allen on the improvement of water management in low temperature fuel cells will have a significant impact in the fuel cell industry in the design of the porous materials used in fuel cells," he said.
Editor's Note: Text and photo courtesy Michigan Technological University.