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UT Engineers Helping ORNL with Key Sustainable Energy Riddle

Gerd Duscher, left, and Alexander Papandrew.

Gerd Duscher, left, and Alexander Papandrew.

One of the key holdups in the march toward more efficient sustainable energy could soon be answered thanks, in part, to UT researchers.

The College of Engineering’s Alexander Papandrew and Gerd Duscher are part of a broader Oak Ridge National Laboratory-led team that recently received a $2.75 million Department of Energy grant for work on improving fuel cells, $1.4 million of which went to their project.

The basic premise of their work is to find a far more efficient way to turn chemical energy—in this case natural gas—into electrical energy.

“Current methods typically involve burning the gas to run a turbine in order to generate electricity, and then transporting the electricity,” said Papandrew, a research assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. “We believe that is an inefficient way of going about it.

“We’re interested in converting natural gas directly to electricity using fuel cells. If we can improve our cells in the ways and to the levels that we hope to achieve, it could fundamentally change the way we get power.”

Continue reading at tntoday.utk.edu