The creation of a hydrogen economy center at USC in conjunction with the national laboratory at Savannah River Site was hailed Monday as a strong indicator the country is getting more serious about its energy problem.
Fluor Corporation, parent company of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, which manages SRS, cut a $1.5 million check to the university to assist in establishing the center by funding endowed chairs for two top researchers.
One will be a Discovery Chair in USC’s College of Engineering and Computing, tasked with developing joint research programs with the laboratory to advance hydrogen and renewable energy technologies.The other will be an Innovation Chair in USC’s Darla Moore School of Business, an expert who will be charged to work with scientists and technologists to transfer technology at USC and the laboratory out into viable commerce and businesses.
"It will accelerate progress," said USC president Harris Pastides. "USC has been in the hydrogen business a long time, but America is in a hurry," given rapidly rising gas prices and the turmoil spreading throughout the oil-producing Middle East, Pastides said.
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While people have seen a hydrogen solution to part of the nation’s energy economy as longterm heretofore, "I think this investment by Fluor says it might be here sooner than you think," Pastides said during the announcement of partnership Monday at USC.
Fluor contributed $1.5 million to the effort, while USC pitched in a $3.5 million donation, and the South Carolina Centers of Economic Excellence added a $5 million gift.