The presidents of the University of Central Florida and Mitsubishi Power will meet Sept. 8 on UCF’s main campus in Orlando, alongside representatives from government, industry, and academia, to address the role of hydrogen in the nation’s push to achieve net-zero carbon emissions and elevate a longstanding partnership between the two organizations.

In the forum, Hydrogen: The Time is Now, UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright and Mitsubishi Power Americas President and CEO Bill Newsom will discuss collaborative opportunities to achieve net zero by 2050. Keynote speaker Jennifer Wilcox, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Fuels and Carbon Management principal deputy assistant secretary, will address the government’s role and recent legislative progress. Panels of experts will discuss the challenges and opportunities in creating a national hydrogen economy.

The forum comes at a critical time, as nations worldwide seek clean-energy solutions. Scientists and engineers are turning to the most abundant element, hydrogen, as a clean energy source that could produce enough energy to serve growing populations while reducing greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050.

The power generation industry’s transition to hydrogen, which involves large-scale production, storage and distribution,  is a complex challenge. Creating a hydrogen-based energy economy, according to Cartwright and Newsom, will require high-level collaborations and investments among academia, industry and government.

“UCF offers partnership opportunities through our multiple research centers that leverage faculty expertise in a variety of relevant areas — such as power generation and storage, combustion, modeling and simulation, energy grid technology, sustainability, aerospace and environmental engineering, and more,” Cartwright says. “UCF — among the nation’s largest producers of engineers and computer scientists — in partnership with Mitsubishi Power and others can play a key role in educating and training the talent pipeline required for a hydrogen-based energy economy.”

Mitsubishi Power, a global leader in power generation, has made major investments in recent years to create the infrastructure required to produce and store hydrogen, and transition existing power plants to clean hydrogen.

“We have set an ambitious goal to reach net zero across all MHI Group companies by 2040,” Newsom says. “In order to help meet this goal we are elevating our partnership with the University of Central Florida — a proven research powerhouse in the energy sector. Through this partnership, we will focus on innovation, research, and education to advance the energy transition.”

UCF’s Research and Academic Centers that Can Support a National Transition to Hydrogen-Based Clean Energy

CATER: Center for Advanced Turbomachinery and Energy Research — led by Pegasus Professor Jayanta Kapat, UCF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

FSEC: Florida Solar Energy Center — led by Professor James Fenton, UCF Department of Materials Science and Engineering

RISES: Resilient, Intelligent and Sustainable Energy Systems — led by Pegasus Professor Zhihua Qu, UCF Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

REACT: Renewable Energy and Chemical Transformations — led by Pegasus Professor Talat Rahman, UCF Department of Physics

UCF School of Modeling, Simulation and Training — led by Director Grace Bochenek ’98PhD., former director of National Energy Technology Laboratory and former acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy