Austrian Delegation Visits UC Irvine’s NFCRC, Smart Grid Demonstration

Jack BrouwerThe Austrian Ambassador to the U.S. visited UC Irvine during the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon in October. Ambassador Hans Peter Manz and a delegation of about 20 researchers, science, technology and energy officials, plus journalists, toured the university’s National Fuel Cell Research Center and the Irvine Smart Grid Demonstration project.

The Austrians were in Orange County to cheer on Team Austria, the first-time Solar Decathlon team from Vienna University of Technology, which ended up winning the competition.

Dean Gregory Washington and Professor Jack Brouwer took the group through the National Fuel Cell Research Center (NFCRC), showing them the fuel cell materials fabrication and testing lab, the fuel cell cloud server power experiment, the connectivity lab and the beta-testing of fuel cell and electric vehicles that the NFCRC is accomplishing in cooperation with manufacturers.From left: Hans Peter Manz, Wendell Brase, Gregory Washington

”Austrian researchers are accomplishing some very significant smart grid, smart community, and electric vehicle research efforts that complement what we are doing at UCI, says Brouwer. “We are interested in building upon the visit to establish research collaborations.”

The group then rode in the fleet of fuel cell vehicles operated by NFCRC to view the Irvine Smart Grid Demonstration (ISGD) project in University Hills, where Vice Chancellor Wendell Brase joined the tour.

ISGD evaluates a wide array of future smart grid technologies through a public-private partnership led by Southern California Edison and the U.S. Department of Energy with UCI’s Advanced Power and Energy Program, Facilities Management, Campus and Environmental Planning and Transportation and Distribution Services as partners. The comprehensive program spans from intelligent regional utility grid network technologies to the substation and distribution circuit level, down to individual homes that are outfitted with smart appliances, solar panels, energy storage and electric vehicles to help understand how the grid will need to interact with the home of the future.

Culminating the visit, Vice Chancellor for Research John Hemminger hosted the delegation for lunch at the University Club.