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Ethiopia - Sossina Haile The Power Behind Cooler, Greener Energy
Sossina Haile created a new type of fuel cell by default. In the late '90s, the Caltech scientist had an idea that she thought might dramatically improve fuel cells, the clean technology that converts chemical energy to electricity to power cars, buses and power plants. Haile's idea was to employ an entirely new type of "superprotonic" compound that might help supply power at dramatically lower cost. But when fuel-cell makers balked at revamping their entire systems to try her solution, Haile decided to fabricate the world's first solid-acid fuel cell in her lab. Early in 2008 a Pasadena, Calif., start-up called Superprotonic—founded by two of her former grad students—will ship the first commercial prototypes to energy-systems makers. The output is barely enough to power a 100-watt bulb, but hopes are high that the small start will someday produce powerful fuel cells for commercial use. "This is potentially a breakthrough technology," says former senator Bill Bradley, who sits on the Superprotonic board.
She's hardly alone in seeing the promise of fuel cells, which produce energy through chemical reactions; their chief emission is pure water. (To prove that point, Haile once drank the tailpipe emission of a fuel-cell car on camera.) Not only do we need to find carbon-neutral fuel sources to slow global warming, but the world's energy needs will continue to grow—by an estimated 50 percent by 2050. Today, small fuel cells power a few cars and buses (Honda will begin leasing a fuel-cell FCX Clarity next summer), while large ones produce electricity at some factories and universities. They are expensive, but Haile's fuel cells may be cheaper and more durable.
Haile, a mother of two, has never followed a conventional path. Her family fled Ethiopia during the coup in the mid-'70s, after soldiers arrested and nearly killed her historian father, then settled in rural Minnesota before Haile, now 41, went to MIT and grad school. Superprotonic launched in 2003, with Haile as science adviser.
Haile's discovery may someday fill a need for a fuel cell that generates power at midrange temperatures. Low-temperature cells (20 degrees to 100 degrees Celsius) require costly platinum catalysts to speed the reactions; superhot "solid oxide" fuel cells react easily, but require expensive ceramic materials that can withstand operating temperatures of 600 degrees to 1,000 degrees Celsius. Finding a material that operates well in a midrange "is quite important," says Jack Brouwer, associate director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center at the University of California, Irvine, though he adds that it's too early to say if Haile's cell will be commercially viable.
Haile is confident it will, but she's also busy "tweaking" high-temperature systems to increase power output and lower costs. For her, the race to find new energy sources is fascinating. She says, "There's nothing better than being able to combine an intellectually exciting topic with the knowledge that it will be beneficial. To me, that's just glory."
About Professor Sossina Haile
Sossina Haile received her B.S and Ph.D (1992) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and M.S. from the University of California, Berkeley. Before joining the Caltech faculty in 1996, Haile spent three years as an assistant professor at the University of Washington, Seattle. Haile has received the NSF National Young Investigator Award (1994-99), Humboldt Fellowship (1992-93), Fulbright Fellowship (1991-92), and AT&T Cooperative Research Fellowship (1986-92). The Humboldt and Fulbright fellowships supported her research at the Max Planck Institut für Festkörperforschung [Institute for Solid State Research], Stuttgart, Germany (1991-1993). She is the recipient of the 2001 J.B. Wagner Award of the High Temperature Materials Division of the Electrochemical Society, the 2000 Coble Award from the American Ceramics Society and the 1997 TMS Robert Lansing Hardy Award.
You go girl. I am so proud of you. Hope, we will see more our sis to the top soon.
Merry Christmas and Happy New year to you and your family and I wish you further success in in your pursuit of making this environmenntally friendly tecknology an everyday thing to most of us.
you are a model for my children born here
you are a model for all Ethiopian
children born here as a parent i show
my children the article and they are happy
prod of you
She had got chances to all the best Universities and it is a great success. good to work like her in a background then crying for nothing.
Here is my abesha sis, keep doing it. Its been a fact we Ethiopians have such smart and genius ppl. Lets keep track of’em and make’em a mentor for the rest of us, especially for these dynamic new generation. Sossi, you are a great fig for all us and we love and respect you. May God bless you and Your fellow Ethiopians!
this is an amusing news for those who r abesha and female and an educated visionary.once again congra!!!!!!!1
First, I must say what a beautiful mother. I am really impressed and proud of you. Fuel cell technology will be one of the biggest thing in the coming years, and it is very nice to have someone like professor Sossina from our country. However, I would like to ask the professor that how can we benefit our country Ethiopia from this new technology and the revenue from it, because now we need to look for different alternatives to develop our our country. I strongly belive that we should stop the old political rethorics and come together with new ideas and energy to improve the circustances for our people. I challenge all the intellectuals like professor Sossina to come together and put aside our differences for the better good of our people.Fortunately Ethiopia is not poor of educated people, the problem is we haven’t used them as we suppose to for the growth of our country.We should look at the Jews, Armens and other folks who lived in diaspora, but they are united for the good of their nation.
I also worked for a few months in a Feuel Cell generator company as an Intern, so I am happy if professor Sossina hook me up with the job in Pasadena and get involved with this technology.
Well done and hats off, professor!!!
God bless Ethiopia and the Ethiopian People.
i am proud of. don’t forget your motherland please, she needs you the most.
She is amazing.Congratualation woman.Yeha
This is somthing. Im proud to know about you and your work. Best wishes!
God Bless you!
Proffor Sosina!Really you are my hero. Keep keep showing to other parts of the world that Our Country Ethiopia is not only known in poverity but a source of decent intellectualls like you who can make a diffrence in this broad and complicated world!
This must be a perfect Christmas gift forwho live out side and back home.
Keep going you bold worrior as you started!
God blessyouand happy holidays(X-Mas) and new year
God bless you
don’t forget your Country
I am impressed. She is a good role model for the myriads of Diaspora community who
are only after winning their daily
Thank you Madam
You are Greate, I proud of you.we Ethiopians need so many sossinas like you to develope our Country and
for the better life for our kids.Ethiopia is calling for you sossina please don´t be late.
God bless you.
OK, Ok, Ok Ok,… What did she do for the poor people in Ethiopia? Her families are (were) one of those preveliaged and managed to come to the USA by the poor people of Ethiopian tax moneny. Its about time to her to pay back respect to the people of Ethiopia till then, I am not going to Congratulate her or say “go girl” as naive.
I shall wait and seeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
God bless you!
We are proud on you and you are our model
From University of St Cloud, MN
Outstanding, superb & a tantalizing world class scientist, looking forward to hear more of your success and advanced research results. Good deal! God bless you and your family.
Criminal African dictators drove this kind of brilliant citizens out of their roots. I am glad for you that you found a place to pursue your passion and help all man kind.
Good job professor.
Anything is possible in the land of opportunity and professor Sossina used the opportunity she got very well. In America, when one door of opportunity is closed, there will a couple of others opened. I remember the Japanese Noble Prize winner few years ago who offended his country men by saying ‘I would have remained an imitator like most of my country men if I did not go to MIT’ . He said this after the nation of Japan had a celebration of his achievemnts for three days, and that was hurtful.
Ethiopia and Ethiopians have many contributions to the world community and this is a good example. You are the bright star to all Ethiopians in particular, and to humanity in general. Thank you for your hard work.
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