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CoEE chair receives grant to study fuel cells

CoEE chair receives grant to study fuel cells

Dr. Brian Benicewicz, endowed chair for the Center of Economic Excellence in Polymer Nanocomposites, has received a $320,000 grant from BASF Fuel Cell GmbH/Inc to support research on high-temperature fuel cells.

The grant continues a decade of support Dr. Benicewicz has maintained for his research on fuel-cell membranes, often considered the "heart" of fuel cells because they facilitate the chemical reaction that allows a fuel cell to generate electricity. Benicewicz has also received funding from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy and various private industry entities.

"It's an excellent partnership and a model for future industry-university relationships," Benicewicz said.

Benicewicz is known for developing fuel-cell membranes that function at temperatures higher than other models, resulting in more durable and longer-lasting fuel-cell systems. His research has resulted in the production of fuel-cell units used in European homes and in portable power devices used around the world.

Benicewicz became a member of the University of South Carolina's chemistry and Nanocenter faculty last year. He plays a leading role in the future of nanoscience and plastics, and his work will boost South Carolina's plastics industry--the state is one of the top producers in the nation.

Since its inception in 2004, the Polymer Nanocomposites CoEE has focused on developing improved materials for the polymers market, including electronics, optical and other industrial applications. Through 2008, this Center has generated more than $2.3 million in extramural research dollars from federal and private sources.



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