U.S. Department of Energy hosts international energy challenge

May 15, 2003 — College and University teams worldwide will soon gather to demonstrate their breakthrough engineering design innovations that will reduce residential electricity consumption from utility sources and feature low cost. The 2003 International Future Energy Challenge (FEC) will encompass two separate competitions, including processing energy from fuel cells and designing motors and motor control systems. Teams will compete for prizes totaling $120,000.

As the nation’s research community continues its development of fuel-cell technology, the day will come when energy from fuel cells will drive our vehicles and power our homes. To help move that technology farther along, five college teams have been selected as finalists in a competition to design, build, and test inverter technology during the FEC.

On May 18, 2003 these finalists will arrive in Morgantown, WV, at the National Energy Technology Laboratory, where they will be given the opportunity to demonstrate their concept of an inverter that features very low cost.

A low cost inverter is necessary to support the commercialization of a 5 Kilowatt solid-oxide fuel cell and convert the energy from the fuel cell for nonuitility and residential use. The five finalists that will compete are Seoul National University of Technology, Texas A&M University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, West Virginia University, and the University of Wisconsin.

Teams will vie for prizes totaling $20K based on innovation, presentations and initial tests using a fuel cell simulator. Those that perform well-enough will be invited back in August to compete for the $50K grand prize.

The motor challenge will commence on May 21-22 at Advanced Energy in Raleigh, NC. The objective of the motor competition is to inspire students to develop low cost design innovations in household appliance motors to reduce electrical consumption, provide increased benefits in performance and service, and change the norm for motors used in homes.

The finalists from this phase of the FEC were selected based upon a review of their proposed designs by a panel of international motor experts from industry and academia. A grand prize of $25K will be awarded for the most cost-effective, fully functional design. Other awards, totaling $20K will be given for student achievement in the competition.

Event sponsors include the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Defense, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Advanced Energy and the Motor Resource Center, Yokogawa Corporation, and the Grainger Center for Electric Machinery and Electromechanics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, among others.

One goal of the event is to encourage college students from recognized engineering programs to participate in the nation’s energy future. Target performance and cost goals are set to challenge students to deliver designs that impact lifestyles. By integrating hands-on research into the educational process, participants learn a great deal about power electronics design and gain valuable expertise, which will result in a pool of high-quality, well-trained engineers and scientists available to help provide solutions to the world’s energy issues.

The 2003 International Future Energy Challenge – more information:

Fuel Cell Inverter Competition
May 18-23
3610 Collins Ferry Road
Raleigh, NC 27606

Motor Competition
May 21-22
Advanced Energy, Inc.
909 Capability Drive, Suite 2100
Morgantown, WV 26507-0880