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Strategic support for national industry

USP of S

The Chemical Institute of the University of São Paulo (USP) in São Carlos, is developing state of the art research into alternative energy sources, conducting polymers for aerospace application and solid waste treatment, among other investigations of strategic interest to national industry. The modernization of the laboratories was financed through the resources of FAPESP's Infrastructure Program.

The investments contributed to the renovation and expansion of the research areas. For example, the new laboratory of the Electrochemical Group currently occupies the old building of the mechanics workshop of the Chemistry Institute. Here, six professors are coordinating the research into alternative energy sources with fuel cells, electrochemical devices for converting chemical energy into electrical energy.

For example, the new installations are going to allow for an expansion of the test areas of prototypes with hydrogen fuel cells, known as fuel cells of solid electrolytic polymer, the focus of interest of the group, as Francisco Carlos Nart explained. “With the new structure we intend to develop prototypes of 2kW(kilowatt), capable of moving small vehicles such as those used on football fields for the transportation of injured players”, forecasts the professor.

The Interfacial Electrochemical Laboratory (LEI), another area of research of the Chemistry Institute, was also benefited. There research is being carried out for the development of conducting polymers for aerospace application, of interest to the Aerospace Technical Center (CTA) and the company Embraer.

The use of this conducting polymer still involves the worry about the protection of corrosion, which can occur in other types of metallic conductors, explained Arthur de Jesus Motheo, of the laboratory team.

These studies have already resulted in a recent patent request in November of 2001. The LEI is also developing research in the area of environmental electrochemistry, through the degrading of effluent residues.