Titus Albu receives grant for fuel cell research from ORAU

With fuel cell research on the cusp of producing an alternative to fossil fuels, Tennessee Tech University’s Titus Albu has been recognized by Oak Ridge Associated Universities for his work in the theoretical investigation of the electrochemical processes in fuel cells.

As one of the nation’s most promising junior faculty members, Albu, a TTU assistant chemistry professor, has brought recognition and grant money to Tennessee Tech by being named a 2003 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award winner by ORAU.
Powe Awards provide seed money to allow faculty members in their first two years of tenure track to enhance their research. Albu received a $5,000 unrestricted research award that will be matched by TTU. Albu’s work on fundamental understanding and improving the efficiency of the electrochemical process in fuel cells has been recognized by his peers as groundbreaking work in the electrochemical field.

Fuel cells offer zero emissions problems and eliminate dependence on fossil fuels because they work by transforming hydrogen and oxygen into electrical energy to run everything from vehicles to power plants. The chemical reaction produces only one emission, a harmless water vapor.

The understanding of electrochemical processes at a molecular level is vital to increasing the efficiency of a fuel cell. Albu is developing a computer program that determines molecular factors critical to the energetics and the overall performance of fuel cells.

With that knowledge, scientists can best leverage the energy to produce the most efficient fuel cells possible. Increasing the power by even one millivolt can be considered a great improvement toward maximum the efficiency.

Albu earned his doctorate from Case Western Reserve University in 2000 after receiving his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Bucharest in Romania. He continued his work as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota before joining TTU in 2002.

Oak Ridge Associated Universities, one of the nation’s most respected university consortiums to advance science and education, has awarded 232 grants totaling more than $1 million in the last 13 years. The 88 major research institutions join national laboratories, government agencies and private industry to advance science and education.