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Fuel cell basics for kids

The basics of fuel cell engineering now complements the offerings of a summer technology camp.

Sicth and 7th graders attending the Gateway Academy offered by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation will learn a few basics about fuel cells. The camp is being held this summer at Ballston Spa High School in Latham, N.Y.

This education outreach initiative is part of a major program recently announced by Plug Power and National Grid, an international natural gas and electric utility. Union College, Schenectady, N.Y. is the host site for the first field-trial of Plug Power’s residential fuel cell, GenSys Plug Power’s 5 kW combined heat and power (CHP) unit. It will convert natural gas into electricity and high-quality heat for the Bleauth House dormitory building on campus.

This project is a result of a partnership with the DOE. Plug Power and National Grid are testing the system in real-life operating conditions at Union College. Plug Power and National Grid will use critical data to determine refinements for the next-generation system.

The educational outreach program includes students attending the Gateway Academy at Ballston Spa High School and the Schenectady Museum. Both groups will help with fuel cell education and field trial data analysis.

”Giving students a hands-on learning opportunity will allow for an advanced understanding of the technology and why it’s critical for our future,” said Joseph Dragone, superintendent, Ballston Spa Central High School District. “We’re excited to be deeply involved in this project. It is an important part of our Partnership for Innovation in Education initiative.”

In a day-long session, Gateway Academy students will learn the fuel-cell basics in a classroom setting. For the duration of the project, students will receive live data directly from the fuel cell site for analysis. Students will be able to follow and dissect results as the field trial progresses — engaging all education levels in the development of fuel cell technology and energy independence.

Students will then take a tour of Plug Power to experience the process of producing a fuel cell which includes engineering, testing, development and the manufacturing process. Later in the day, the students will visit the Union College campus and be able to see the installation of the GenSys unit in progress.

“Union College was an ideal field-trial site because of its support for advanced energy initiatives, efficiency programs and curriculum,” said Mark Sperry, vice president, Continuous Power Division, Plug Power.

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