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DaimlerChrysler Features Future Fuels Research at 2003 Detroit Science Center Gala

May 16, 2003

Environmentally friendly hydrogen production andstorage technologies that could be used to power future automobiles are thefocus of three university studies partially funded by the DaimlerChryslerChallenge Fund. These biotechnologies were part of the Life Sciencestechnology display at the 2003 Detroit Science Center Gala May 16 inDetroit."We are proud to support these and other academic projects through theDaimlerChrysler Challenge Fund," said Bernard Robertson, senior vicepresident, Engineering Technologies and Regulatory Affairs. "Thistechnology is complementary to our core business, and completes the zeroemissions cycle for vehicles that can run on clean, renewable energysources."The three featured technologies are:Hydrogen Production from Algae and Bacteria, Prof. Tasios Melis, PhD.,University of California, Berkeley.In this experimental program, hydrogen is produced by algae and bacteriausing sunlight and water. Research in biotechnology provides green algaethat releases hydrogen through photosynthesis. The by-product from thephotosynthesis provides food for the bacteria which also produces hydrogenthrough photosynthesis. This may prove to be an ecologically friendly,renewable source of hydrogen.Hydrogen Production from Sugar, Prof. James A. Dumesic, PhD., University ofWisconsin, Randy D. Cortright, PhD., Mary-Rose de Valladares and DamonBresenham, Virent Energy Systems, LLC., Madison, Wisconsin.Hydrogen can be produced from water-soluble carbohydrates such as sugarsand alcohols. This is a renewable source of hydrogen, and this processoffers the opportunity to reform the fuel to make hydrogen on-board thevehicle in a manner that is safe and nontoxic.Higher Efficiency Packaging for Compressed Hydrogen, Prof. Lawrence T.Drzal, PhD., Michigan State University.Spider Silk fiber may solve several challenges for high-pressure gasstorage necessary with compressed hydrogen. Spider silk is environmentallyfriendly, and for its weight, it is one of the strongest materials found innature. Spider silk used in this university program to develophigh-strength, lightweight composites has a strength-to-weight ratio, orspecific strength, that is 20 to 45 times stronger than steel. It isroughly the same as Kevlar or Carbon fiber."As important as the fuel cell vehicle itself, is the issue of how the fuelfor these vehicles is produced, " said Thomas S. Moore, vice president andhead of the Liberty & Technical Affairs research group at DaimlerChrysler."These research projects, which we are pleased to support through theDaimlerChrysler Challenge Fund, are addressing two important questions: Howdo we produce hydrogen fuel for automobiles using renewable, non-pollutingresources, and how do we store hydrogen fuel onboard the vehicle?"The DaimlerChrysler Challenge Fund supports a variety of academic researchactivities including these aimed at developing and storing hydrogen inenvironmental, ecological and renewable methods. This program challengesselect universities to apply their creative resources to targetedautomotive research projects in order to create closer workingrelationships with leading universities.
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