The Hayward Campus of California State University, East Bay is under consideration as a future site for the placement of a $7 million fuel cell to be provided and paid for by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. With San Francisco State University also under consideration, the two CSU campuses would be the first Bay Area locations to have fuel cells.
An electrochemical energy conversion device, a fuel cell converts hydrogen fuel into water. In the process, it produces electricity. It operates without combustion, making it virtually pollution-free, according to Jim Zavagno, the university’s associate director for planning design and construction.
“Since the fuel is converted directly into electricity and heat, a fuel cell’s total system efficiency can be much higher than internal combustion engines, extracting more energy from the same amount of fuel,” Zavagno said. “The fuel cell has no moving parts, making it a quiet and reliable source of power.”
A fuel cell would offer two potential benefits for Cal State East Bay:
The installation would be capable of generating up to 1.2 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 1,250 standard size homes for one year. Unlike the photovoltaic panels on top of several Hayward Campus buildings that generate electricity for the university, electricity generated by a fuel cell would be returned to the state’s electric grid for powering homes and businesses.
Mo Qayoumi, Cal State East Bay president, initiated an award-winning fuel cell project during his tenure as vice president for administration and finance at Cal State Northridge. Among its advantages, according to the president, are the generation of green energy and its usage as a lab for education and research.
If approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in the fall, the fuel cell would be located at the northern tip of the CSUEB campus, adjacent to the Music building. It would occupy a fenced-off space of approximately 50 feet by 100 feet and be accompanied by an information kiosk. The earliest it could be installed on campus would be September 2010.