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Dr. Kenneth Reifsnider

Endowed Chair in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

  • Leads South Carolina’s fuel cell research initiative to develop fuel cells for power for aerospace, land vehicles and portable power; membranes for high temperature materials processing; and alternative energy.
  • Under Dr. Reifsnider’s direction, the Solid Oxide Fuel Center has added $31.2 million in research support and more than 270 jobs to South Carolina since 2008.
  • Leads $12.5 million U.S. Department of Energy Frontiers Research Center grant, a collaboration of six universities and three national labs.
  • Member, National Academy of Engineering
  • Member, Air Force Science Advisory Board
  • PhD, Metallurgy and Solid Mechanics, Johns Hopkins University
  • BA, Mathematics, Western Maryland College
  • MSE, Mechanics, Johns Hopkins University

As the world seeks new green energy sources for the future, fuel cells have emerged as a viable and highly attractive technology. The University of South Carolina (USC) is home to the nation's only National Science Foundation-funded Industry-University Research Center for Fuel Cells. USC recruited renowned fuel cell researcher, Dr. Kenneth Reifsnider, as a SmartState Endowed Chair and Director of its Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Center. 

A member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering, Dr. Reifsnider’s research focus is in fuel cell science and mechanical engineering, with a focus on how materials behave—their durability, damage tolerance, and the way they perform over time. Fuel cells are continually replenished with fuel and thus provide a continuous supply of electric power without running down like a battery. Solid oxide fuel cells convert chemical energy directly into electrical energy. 

His research holds tremendous relevance and applicability as the world searches for safe, clean energy sources. Fuel cells hold tremendous promise for commercial and personal power. Applications include large-scale power distribution for municipalities, rural areas and industries, as well as heat and power for homes. They could also provide mobile power for computers, cell phones and other electronics. 

Solid oxide fuel cells are a “green” technology. They are highly efficient; operate with a number of fuels, including renewable fuels; and produce very low amounts of greenhouse gasses and pollution.

The work of Dr. Reifsnider and USC has attracted a cadre of influential partners, including General Motors, Boeing, BASF, John Deere, LG Electronics, and the Savannah River National Laboratory.

Dr. Reifsnider is highly regarded. In 2009, the White House named him to the Air Force Science Advisory Board. He is the only University of South Carolina researcher who is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is a former Deputy Director of a National Science Foundation Center. Prior to joining the USC faculty, he was the director of the Connecticut Global Fuel Cell Center at the University of Connecticut.

A prolific researcher and innovator, Dr. Reifsnider holds three patents.

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