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Jack Brouwer - UC Irvine. Irvine, CA, US

Jack Brouwer

Professor: Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering; Director: National Fuel Cell Research Center, Advanced Power and Energy Program | UC Irvine


Jack Brouwer's research focuses on high-temperature electrochemical dynamics and integrated renewable energy systems.





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Brouwer’s research focuses upon high-temperature electrochemical dynamics and integrated renewable energy systems including fuel cells, electrolyzers, batteries, gas turbines, and solar and wind power. Brouwer is recognized for research and development of the world’s first integrated hybrid solid oxide fuel cell gas turbine system, the world’s first renewable high temperature fuel cell system for tri-generation of hydrogen, heat, and power, the world’s first direct DC powering of data center servers with a fuel cell, and the U.S. first renewable power-to-gas hydrogen injection into the natural gas system and subsequent conversion to decarbonized electricity in a combined cycle power plant.

Brouwer received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1993. From 1993 to 1997, he served as a research assistant professor at the University of Utah and was a member of the technical staff at Reaction Engineering International. He came to UC Irvine in 1997 as associate director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center (NFCRC), concurrently holding appointments as lecturer, assistant and then associate adjunct professor. He was named assistant professor in the summer of 2011 and became full professor in the summer of 2017.

Areas of Expertise (5)

High-Temperature Electrochemical Dynamics

Renewable Hydrogen

Renewable Power Dynamics

Integrated Renewable Power Systems

Hybrid Power and Energy Storage Systems

Education (1)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: PhD, Mechanical Engineering 1993

Media Appearances (9)

California’s Dream of a Green Hydrogen Future Could Backfire

Capital & Main  online


California’s current energy mix would result in 11 kilograms of carbon emissions for every kilogram of hydrogen produced ... The Treasury Department’s solution to such problems is to offer tax credits to hydrogen producers who ensure that their electricity comes from clean sources that adds to existing clean electricity already on the grid. That would prevent producers from monopolizing the grid’s renewable power. They would also have to confirm that the clean power goes to electrolyzers as it is generated. Such requirements could “delay the advancement of clean renewable hydrogen production in California,” said Jack Brouwer, director of the Clean Energy Institute at UC Irvine, at the hearing in Sacramento. He was heavily involved in preparing California’s hydrogen hub application.

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With the state mandating zero emissions, Bay Area agencies are split on hydrogen vs. electric

The Mercury News  online


According to Jack Brouwer, director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center and the Advanced Power and Energy Program at UC Irvine, deciding the right number and type of zero-emission buses depends on many factors, including the electrical grid infrastructure, the bus routes, and the road type. Battery electric buses, for example, consume more power on hilly roads.

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Electric vehicle owners struggling in cold weather

CBS News  online


Some electric vehicle batteries and charging stations are having a hard time handling the frigid temperatures across much of the U.S. Jack Brouwer, the director of the Clean Energy Institute at the University of California, Irvine, joins CBS News with a look at the temperature impact on EVs.

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Electric Car Owners Confront a Harsh Foe: Cold Weather

The New York Times  online


The challenge for electric vehicles is the two sides of the battery — the anode and the cathode — have chemical reactions that are slowed during extremely cold temperatures. That affects both the charging and the discharging of the battery, said Jack Brouwer, director of the Clean Energy Institute and a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of California, Irvine. “It ends up being very difficult to make battery electric vehicles work in very cold conditions,” Mr. Brouwer said. “You cannot charge a battery as fast or discharge a battery as fast if it’s cold. There’s no physical way of getting around.”

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Sizing up hydrogen’s hydrological footprint

Nature  online


“Hydrogen’s water consumption is small compared to what’s currently used in fossil-energy conversion and inconsequential compared to agricultural water use,” says Jack Brouwer, director of the Clean Energy Institute at the University of California, Irvine. “But there are serious water availability and delivery challenges at the local and regional levels that will need to be considered.” … Brouwer is one of the main team members behind California’s hydrogen-development programme, which picked up $1.2-billion of the $7 billion in US federal funds awarded in October to regional ‘hydrogen hubs’ that link producers and consumers.

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The hope and hype of hydrogen

The New York Times  online


“Over time, as the infrastructure gets built out everywhere, we will see a huge private investment in the production of hydrogen and the delivery of hydrogen in these cheaper ways,” said Jack Brouwer, a professor of engineering at the University of California, Irvine, and the director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center [advanced power and energy program]. … “Someday, renewable, clean hydrogen will be cheaper than what we are paying today for gasoline,” Brouwer said. “It’s inevitable.”

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Opinion: Our clean energy transition requires hydrogen — we must treat it fairly

The Hill  online


Jack Brouwer, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of the Clean Energy Institute (CEI) at the University of California, Irvine writes, “Congress came together to pass the bipartisan Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes substantial investments in clean energy technologies. Notably, clean hydrogen received a production tax credit to empower its competition against polluting fossil fuels. … Congress recognized the urgency of nurturing the clean renewable hydrogen industry, and action is required now. Establishing infrastructure and supply chains takes time. Starting the green hydrogen industry now is essential to achieve zero emissions by mid-century, saving lives and enhancing the quality of life ….

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On a hydrogen hunt in San Francisco

Financial Times  online


Jack Brouwer, an engineering professor [and Director Advanced Power and Energy Program] at University of California, Irvine who has worked for years on hydrogen issues, told me the reason the cost of hydrogen had surged is that state subsidies are being gobbled up by big businesses jumping into sustainable energy, such as biodiesel. These businesses “took all of the credits” that had been going to companies making and distributing hydrogen, he said. California’s legislature and governor know about this problem in hydrogen subsidies but for now it hasn’t been fixed. [Subscription required, campus-wide access provided by UCI Libraries. Sign-up here: https://guides.lib.uci.edu/news/ft]

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UCI tests out futuristic smart grid technology at faculty homes

KCBS  online


"We must have energy storage if we are to make a highly renewable future work," said Brouwer. "The second is that we need to upgrade the electric infrastructure if we want 100% zero-emission vehicles. An alternative to that is to use hydrogen and fuel cell technology."

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Articles (8)

Experimental dynamic dispatch of a 60 kW proton exchange membrane electrolyzer in power-to-gas application

International Journal of Hydrogen Energy

John M. Stansberry, Jacob Brouwer

2020 A 60 kW PEM electrolyzer was modified to have dynamic dispatch capabilities through the use of an external mass flow controller and was subsequently operated and studied in detail as a part of the UC Irvine power-to-gas (P2G) demonstration project. The system operated in load following for both rooftop solar PV output and aggregated wind farm power.

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Hydrogen leaks at the same rate as natural gas in typical low-pressure gas infrastructure

International Journal of Hydrogen Energy

Alejandra Hormaza Mejia, Jacob Brouwer, Michael Mac Kinnon

2020 A global interest to increase the use of renewable resources has spurred an interest in hydrogen (H2) gas as an energy carrier. Natural gas (NG) infrastructure has been proposed as a potential storage, transmission and distributions system for renewably produced gaseous H2 fuel. Introducing H2 to the NG system has raised concerns about H2 leakage from the system.

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Dynamic dispatch of solid oxide electrolysis system for high renewable energy penetration in a microgrid

Energy Conversion and Management

Paolo Colombo, Alireza Saeedmanesh, Massimo Santarelli, Jack Brouwer

2020 The impacts of increasing deployment of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) on existing energy infrastructure has been investigated in a microgrid, an energy system that, with its constraints, foreshadows the challenges of the evolving electricity network. The campus microgrid of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) is modeled, including an existing natural gas-fueled combined cycle power plant, electric chilling and thermal energy storage, and analyzing the microgrid response to additional Photovoltaic (PV) installations.

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Net-zero emissions energy systems


2018 Models show that to avert dangerous levels of climate change, global carbon dioxide emissions must fall to zero later this century. Most of these emissions arise from energy use. Davis et al. review what it would take to achieve decarbonization of the energy system. Some parts of the energy system are particularly difficult to decarbonize, including aviation, long-distance transport, steel and cement production, and provision of a reliable electricity supply.

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Hydrogen is essential for sustainability

Current Opinion in Electrochemistry

2018 Sustainable energy conversion requires zero emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants using primary energy sources that the earth naturally replenishes quickly, like renewable resources. Solar and wind power conversion technologies have become cost effective recently, but challenges remain to manage electrical grid dynamics and to meet end-use requirements for energy dense fuels and chemicals.

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The role of natural gas and its infrastructure in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, improving regional air quality, and renewable resource integration

Progress in Energy and Combustion Science

2018 The pursuit of future energy systems that can meet electricity demands while supporting the attainment of societal environment goals, including mitigating climate change and reducing pollution in the air, has led to questions regarding the viability of continued use of natural gas. Natural gas use, particularly for electricity generation, has increased in recent years due to enhanced resource availability from non-traditional reserves and pressure to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) from higher-emitting sources, including coal generation.

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Dynamic performance of an in-rack proton exchange membrane fuel cell battery system to power servers

International Journal of Hydrogen Energy

2017 To improve the reliability and the energy efficiency of data centers, as well as to reduce infrastructure costs and environmental impacts, we experimentally evaluated in-rack powering of servers with a hybrid 12 kW Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) and battery system. The steady state and the transient performance of the PEMFC and battery in response to dynamic AC loads and real server loads have been evaluated and characterized.

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Dynamic modeling of compressed gas energy storage to complement renewable wind power intermittency

International Journal of Hydrogen Energy

2013 To evaluate the impacts and capabilities of large-scale compressed gas energy storage for mitigating wind intermittency, dynamic system models for compressed air energy storage and compressed hydrogen energy storage inside salt caverns have been developed. With the experimental data from air storage in a salt cavern in Huntorf, Germany, the cavern model has been verified.

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