by George Zamora

SOCORRO, N.M., March 30, 2004 – William Lujan, a junior majoring in chemical engineering at New Mexico Tech, placed first in a research paper competition held recently at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) regional conference at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

As a result of his first-place finish, Lujan becomes one of eight university students from throughout the nation who have received invitations to the AIChE national research paper competition, which will be held during the organization’s annual national conference in November in Austin, Texas.

Lujan’s award-winning research paper details results of research work on micro-scale fuel cells he currently is conducting under the direction of New Mexico Tech chemical engineering professor Donald Weinkauf.

“I have developed—and am developing—a method that may be used in creating ultra-thin film electrolyte materials for proton exchange membrane fuel cells,” Lujan says. “I am continuing to characterize these thin films and evaluate their performances.

“I am doing this work with Bidri Arman, a New Mexico Tech graduate student in materials engineering,” he adds.

The fuel cells Lujan works with are less than five microns in thickness.

The research being done on micro-scale, thin-film fuel cells by Lujan, Arman, and Weinkauf is supported by federal grants from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Laboratory at Hawaii and the National Science Foundation.