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  March 22, 2004

UConn Awards First Fuel Cell
Research Medal To Industry Leader

An international leader in the fuel cell industry is the first recipient of the F.T. Bacon Medal for fuel cell research and deployment.

Image: Trent Molter and Hans Maru

Hans Maru, right, of Fuel Cell Energy, the first recipient of the University's F.T. Bacon Medal for Fuel Cell Research and Deployment, speaks with Trent Molter, research scientist at the Connecticut Global Fuel Cell Center, during a conference on fuel cell development and deployment at the ITE Building.

Photo by Peter Morenus

Hans C. Maru, executive vice-president and chief technology officer at Fuel Cell Energy in Danbury, is an expert in the field of fuel cell generators, and over the years has been granted 13 patents in this area.

The medal was established by the Connecticut Global Fuel Cell Center at UConn, in conjunction with its first annual International Conference on Fuel Cell Development and Deployment held March 8-10 on the Storrs campus.

The medal honors the memory and work of the late Francis T. (Tom) Bacon, a British scientist who invented the first commercial fuel cell. Some of his patents were sold to Pratt & Whitney in the early 1960's for the fuel cells developed and used during the Apollo space missions. The fuel cells provided in-flight power, heat, and drinking water.

Bacon's adult children, Daphne Vivian-Neal and Edward Bacon, traveled from Britain to UConn to present the first medal established in their late father's name.

Nigel Sammes, director of the fuel cell center, said the medal was named for Bacon because he was the first scientist to demonstrate that fuel cells had a life and a purpose outside the laboratory.

Sammes and the conference steering committee, made up of scientists from industry and academia worldwide, selected Maru as the first recipient based on his success in making fuel cells a commercial reality.

"We are grateful for Dr. Hans Maru's work and leadership in keeping the legacy of F.T. Bacon alive," said Sammes.

Maru joined FuelCell Energy in 1977 and is a former senior vice-preside nt. The corporation is a world leader in the development and manufacture of high temperature hydrogen fuel cells for clean electric power generation. Previously, Maru spent eight years at the Gas Technology Institute based in Illinois, conducting research in the fields of fuel cells, electrolyzers, thermal energy storage, and hydrogen energy.

Jerry D. Leitman, chairman and CEO of FuelCell Energy, said the Bacon Medal is an honor Maru richly deserves. He said Maru's technological leadership has brought fuel cells "to the point where they are no longer a mere laboratory curiosity or found only in spacecraft, but are available for commercial sale today."

Maru is the author of more than 140 publications, including chapters in two books. He received a doctoral degree in chemical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1975.