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Home > Library > Annual Merit Review & Peer Evaluation > Awards

2012 Annual Merit Review Awards

Each year, at the Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting, the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program presents "Program Awards" for contributions to the overall efforts of the Program, and "Sub-Program Awards" to recognize achievements in specific areas. This year, the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Office and the Vehicle Technologies Office also presented a joint "Special Recognition Award."

Special Recognition Award from the DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program and the Vehicle Technologies Office

Judi Abraham, Conference Management Associates, Inc.
As a special tribute, the DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program and Vehicle Technologies Office recognize Ms. Judi Abraham for her exceptional dedication and service in the planning, logistics management, and implementation of the Programs' Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation and AMR predecessor meetings for the last 33 years. As subcontractor to various contractors and most recently through Alliance Technical Services, Judi has been responsible 'behind the scenes' for numerous conferences and meetings conducted by DOE, including several international NATO conferences, the Automotive Technology Development Contractors' Coordination Meeting, the AMRs, and managing logistics for many thousands of participants since 1979. Judi's outstanding organizational skills, attention to detail, and ability to motivate those around her, has made her an icon among the conference planning and logistics management organizations within the DOE Programs. She has demonstrated exemplary initiative, patience, and perseverance in ensuring the most effective use of taxpayer funds to lower costs while maintaining exceptional high quality for every single event she has organized.

Judi's outstanding service was recognized at the 2012 Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program and Vehicle Technologies Office AMR, which included more than 1,800 participants—for which Judi and other outstanding staff provided all the logistics support. Among excerpts read at the recognition ceremony, Nancy Blackwell, a previous manager, provided the following: "Everyone enjoyed working with Judi. I would watch in awe as she was able to calm even the most belligerent conference participant (author, exhibitor, or registrant), and then, without skipping a beat and with a smile on her face, direct hotel staff on what needed to be done for an upcoming conference event." Judi's exceptional service is valued by hundreds of DOE staff and thousands of AMR attendees. The DOE Programs also commended all the staff involved in the 2012 AMR.

DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Awards, recognizing outstanding contributions over the years:

Argonne National Laboratory Technical Experts

Thomas Benjamin
This award recognizes Tom Benjamin, who became a technical advisor for the DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Office in 2001. Prior to that, he worked for 29 years in fuel cell technology development and technical project management for Pratt & Whitney (now UTC Power), Energy Research Corporation (now FuelCell Energy), the Institute of Gas Technology, and M-C Power. With this wealth of experience in high temperature fuel cells and fuel cell systems, Tom has brought a unique perspective to the DOE program as he has provided expertise in technical analysis, project review, and program planning. He currently serves on the USDRIVE Fuel Cell Tech Team, focusing on durability protocols. He was essential in crafting the Cell Component Accelerated Stress Test and Polarization Curve Protocols for PEM Fuel Cells (Electrocatalysts, Supports, Membranes, and Membrane Electrode Assemblies), which are crucial to establishment of standardized durability and performance metrics in order to assess technology status and to compare against DOE/USDRIVE targets. Tom is especially appreciated for his ability to identify and focus on key issues and his rigorous approach to technical project management.

John Kopasz
This award recognizes John Kopasz, who was first involved with the predecessor to the DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Office in 2002 as a research chemist leading a project on the effects of fuel composition on fuel processing catalysts. In 2005, he was asked to become a technical advisor for the Fuel Cell team. In this capacity, he has proven to be indispensable for monitoring research progress, especially in the areas of fuel cell catalysis and membrane development. He co-chaired the High Temperature Membrane Working Group, which is an excellent example of a unique R&D collaboration/competition among more than 10 organizations creating several promising new polymer electrolyte membranes. John has been a constant source of technical expertise in evaluating research projects and proposals, serving as a member of the USDRIVE Fuel Cell Tech Team, representing the Program at technical symposia, and writing technical papers. John is especially appreciated for his willingness to ask challenging and insightful questions of DOE-funded researchers to help improve their work.

Walter Podolski
This award recognizes Walt Podolski, who has been a technical advisor supporting the DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Office (and its predecessor programs) since 1992. He has supported the Energy Conversion team within the Advanced Automotive Program in the Office of Transportation Technologies; the Fuel Cell team within the Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Technologies Program; and Hydrogen Storage and Fuel Cell teams within the current Fuel Cell Technologies Office. His broad knowledge and experience have been irreplaceable as he has reviewed and assessed the progress of industrial organizations and universities developing key fuel cell technologies. His perspective and guidance to DOE's technology development managers over the years have helped to shape the technical direction of the program and provide continuity amidst change. He continues to provide valuable input to the Program's multi-year strategic R&D planning, and he serves on the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Storage Tech Teams of the USDRIVE partnership. Walt also served on both of these Tech Teams for USDRIVE's predecessors—the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) and the FreedomCAR & Fuel Partnership. Over the years, Walt has been an indispensable asset to the entire Program.

Catherine Dunwoody, California Fuel Cell Partnership
This award recognizes Catherine Dunwoody for her past and continuing outstanding leadership and dedication to the advancement and commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in California and for her contributions to DOE's Fuel Cell Technologies Office. Catherine has worked tirelessly at managing the California Fuel Cell Partnership and spearheading the activities of industry stakeholders to accelerate progress towards widespread commercialization. Catherine has shown remarkable ingenuity and creativity in directing programs, and engaging the local government and community to educate the public about hydrogen and fuel cells. She is vigilant with her oversight of technology progress, she maintains strong coordination between the DOE and California agencies, and she has developed a high-quality staff to ensure that the California Fuel Cell Partnership is at the forefront of emerging fuel cell technologies. Catherine continues to provide the DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Office with valuable insight and information about the emerging California market and technology implementation.

Jaimie Levin, AC Transit
This award recognizes Jaimie Levin of the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area for his leadership role demonstrating the viability of an emissions-free transit system. Jaimie began developing AC Transit's alternative fuels policy in 1999. Soon afterward, he began building one of the most comprehensive hydrogen fuel cell demonstration programs in the United States. From March 2006 through mid-2010, AC Transit successfully operated three first-generation fuel cell buses in revenue service. During the past 24 months, they have placed 12 new third-generation fuel cell buses into service, exhibiting improved power and range, better reliability and durability, and nearly twice the fuel economy of conventional propulsion technologies. AC Transit's hydrogen fuel cell hybrid bus program was recently valued at more than $86 million and recognized as one of the largest demonstration projects of its type in the world. To date, its fleet of buses has traveled more than 550,000 miles and carried more than 1.8 million passengers.

In July 2011, AC Transit's Board of Directors established Jaimie's current position, the District's Director of Environmental Technology. In this position, Jaimie is responsible for a range of program activities, including alternative fuels development, environmental policy, and renewable and sustainable program initiatives. He works with numerous stakeholders and coordinates with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to provide data from the fuel cell buses. In addition, Jaimie serves as AC Transit's representative to the California Fuel Cell Partnership and as a member of the Advisory Board for UC Berkeley's Transportation Sustainability Research Center. In all of these roles, Jaimie has been an outstanding advocate for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Jaimie is also a dedicated transit rider himself, commuting on public transit daily, including many fuel cell buses in scheduled service. He even obtained a commercial driver's license so he could actually drive the buses occasionally for demonstration purposes.

DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Sub-Program Awards, recognizing outstanding technical contributions:

Hydrogen Production

Katherine Ayers, Proton OnSite; and Monjid Hamdan, Giner, Inc.
This award recognizes the invaluable contributions that Dr. Katherine Ayers, director of research at Proton OnSite, and Dr. Monjid Hamdan, senior program manager at Giner, Inc., have made to the DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program in the field of hydrogen production through electrolysis. Both Dr. Hamdan and Dr. Ayers have been instrumental in the research and development of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyzer cells, stacks, and systems that have consistently met Program goals in reducing the cost of hydrogen production. Through their efforts, the projected capital cost of PEM electrolyzer stacks has been reduced by 80% in the last several years. This impressive accomplishment has been achieved through innovations at the cell, stack, and system levels—including reduced catalyst loading, optimized flow fields, and reduced part counts. In addition to their important technical contributions, both Dr. Ayers and Dr. Hamdan have contributed significantly as leaders in the Electrolysis Working Group, providing invaluable expertise and guidance to the Program in its efforts to establish future targets for electrolysis technology.

Hydrogen Delivery

Amgad Elgowainy, Argonne National Laboratory
This award recognizes Dr. Amgad Elgowainy for his outstanding technical leadership in the development of cost and engineering information for updating the Program's Hydrogen Delivery Scenario Analysis Model and the establishment and verification of model assumptions for three key time periods over which fuel cell markets could emerge, develop, and begin to mature. Working with industry stakeholders, as well as other national laboratories and international institutions, Amgad has established rigorous engineering and economic models and cost analyses. His research has been instrumental in helping the Department of Energy update cost and technical targets for the Hydrogen Delivery sub-program. In addition, Dr. Elgowainy has developed analysis tools that will help identify technology options that will have the greatest impact on reducing the cost of hydrogen delivery to meet DOE targets for various market scenarios.

Hydrogen Storage

Matthew Thornton, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Michael Veenstra, Ford Motor Company; and José Miguel Pasini, United Technologies Research Center
This award recognizes three individuals for their outstanding contributions to the development of the integrated modeling framework for the Hydrogen Storage Engineering Center of Excellence (HSECoE). The HSECoE is charged with developing complete, engineered materials-based hydrogen storage systems and advancing their performance to meet or exceed DOE's 2017 targets. Accurately projecting system level performance from experimental material properties for evaluation against DOE's onboard vehicle hydrogen storage targets was a significant challenge faced by the HSECoE. To be able to consistently evaluate the various design concepts and engineering improvements, the HSECoE developed an integrated modeling framework consisting of a vehicle-level model, coupled to a fuel cell power plant model, which was coupled to various hydrogen storage system modules. By running the integrated models through a set of vehicle drive cycles, the performance of the storage system can be determined. This development was crucial in the HSECoE's efforts in evaluating the current state-of-the-art technology and identifying technology gaps and necessary engineering improvements. While it is difficult to single out individuals in collaborative group efforts such as the HSECoE, the DOE recognizes these three individuals for their particularly valuable contributions.

Fuel Cells

Radoslav Adzic, Brookhaven National Laboratory
This award recognizes Dr. Radoslav Adzic for his work on reducing the content of platinum group metals in oxygen reduction catalysts in polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells. Dr. Adzic has studied surface electrochemistry and electrocatalysis for years and has recently focused on making efficient oxygen reduction catalysts for fuel cell electric vehicles. Platinum is an extremely effective electrocatalyst but has high cost and poor durability in the fuel cell environment. To overcome these barriers, Dr. Adzic and his colleagues at Brookhaven developed core shell catalysts, which are robust nanoparticles coated with a monolayer of platinum. The first catalysts, ruthenium nanoparticles with a few platinum islands, had long-term stability and the same catalytic activity as standard, all-platinum catalyst but contained only a tenth of the platinum. Dr. Adzic has demonstrated core shell catalysts with mass activities exceeding the DOE target of 0.44 A/mgPGM. Dr. Adzic and his team have begun depositing continuous monolayers of platinum on carbon nanotubes, metal oxides, palladium nanorods and nanowires, and hollow palladium nanoparticles, with demonstrated high specific activities. He recently demonstrated platinum electrochemically deposited on palladium-gold nanorods with outstanding performance in membrane electrode assemblies; the mass activity of these catalysts exceeds the DOE target. In January 2012, N.E. Chemcat Corporation, Japan's leading catalyst and precious metal compound manufacturer, licensed electrocatalysts developed by Dr. Adzic and his team as well as the synthesis and equipment design used to prepare the catalysts. Dr. Adzic was honored as 2012 Inventor of the Year by the New York Intellectual Property Law Association for his catalyst work for hydrogen fuel cells.

Radoslav Atanasoski, 3M
This award recognizes Dr. Radoslav Atanasoski for his work on improving transient durability in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells while simultaneously maintaining low platinum group metal catalyst loading. Durability during transients is realized by doping the anode or cathode catalysts to control conditions during transients. This year, Dr. Atanasoski's work on developing catalysts that are durable during transient conditions enabled the demonstration of cell reversal with little damage to the cell. The team led by Dr. Atanasoski also successfully reduced the oxygen reduction reaction current on the anode by a factor of greater than 1,000. Moreover, Dr. Atanasoski achieved 5,000 start-up/shutdown cycles with low platinum electrochemical surface area loss. These combined achievements represent great strides toward achieving DOE's 2017 catalyst durability target of 5,000 hours including transients. Furthermore, Dr. Atanasoski developed new start/stop cycling protocols—a valuable contribution to DOE's Durability Working Group. In addition, the catalysts were scaled up and tested in stacks by the Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation. The new catalyst anode consistently outperformed conventional catalyst baselines with higher loadings.

Manufacturing R&D

Michael Ulsh, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
This award recognizes Michael Ulsh for his efforts to reduce the cost of manufacturing polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells. Mike has developed new techniques for identifying manufacturing defects in membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs). His work defines sensitivity requirements for the diagnostics and will lead to improved production tolerances and lower cost PEM MEAs. Mike's approach is to learn from industry partners what quality control is needed, use modeling to guide the development of diagnostics in the laboratory, validate the diagnostics in-line, use in situ testing to understand the effects of defects on fuel cell performance, and finally transfer the technology to industry. He has demonstrated the use of optical reflectometry on-line to determine thickness variation and bubbles in membrane material, and he has used direct current excitation/infrared radiation response to identify scratches in gas diffusion layers and catalyst loading in catalyst coated membranes. He recently demonstrated in-line defect detection using optical diagnostics on microporous-layer-coated gas diffusion layers at 30 feet per minute, the line speed of commercial developers. His techniques identified all defects. Mike has initiated work to form a consortium of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) OEMs for joint investigation of SOFC manufacturing defects. Mike supported the DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Office by hosting the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Manufacturing R&D Workshop in August 2011 and writing the workshop proceedings report. He also provided valuable input to the latest update of the Manufacturing R&D chapter in the Multi-Year RD&D Plan and to the Defense Production Act Request for Information, "Addressing Availability and Cost of Fuel Cell Systems," and he participated in the Office of Naval Research's "Manufacturing Fuel Cell Manhattan Project."

Safety, Codes and Standards

Daniel Dedrick, Sandia National Laboratories
This award recognizes Daniel Dedrick for his outstanding achievements and leadership in hydrogen research and development activities relating to codes and standards. At Sandia National Laboratories, Daniel has demonstrated his leadership abilities by directing a team that has been responsible for providing the technical basis for both domestic and international codes and standards needed for the safe deployment of hydrogen technologies. Daniel and his team developed advanced testing methodologies to enable better understanding of phenomena such as accelerated embrittlement and fatigue due to hydrogen's effects on materials. This improved understanding has led to the development of fault-tolerant component standards and system design standards such as CSA CHMC1 and CSA HPIT1. In addition, under Daniel's leadership, Sandia was key in advancing the scientific understanding and developing and validating the engineering needed to establish a risk-based approach for defining safety distances for bulk gaseous hydrogen storage at fueling stations and other facilities. This risk-based approach was incorporated in NFPA 2 - Hydrogen Technologies Code. Daniel continues to work with critical code development organizations and standard development organizations both domestically and internationally to provide the R&D needed for the safe deployment of hydrogen technologies.