Florida Tech Latest User of SERC Hydrogen Curriculum

SERC’s hydrogen experiment kits are now being used by chemistry students at Florida Institute of Technology (FIT). The kits were originally developed as part of SERC’s Department of Energy-funded Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) project.

H2E3 was initially directed at engineering students at California universities, but we have had numerous inquiries from schools outside the state interested in the equipment and curriculum. In addition, we’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn that instructors in fields other than engineering find the H2E3 materials useful in meeting their own teaching objectives.

DOE financial support was also instrumental for Florida Tech in adopting the curriculum. Their College of Engineering/College of Science received DOE funding to develop hydrogen education materials including an experiment, Thermodynamics of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell, that is now used in a physical chemistry laboratory course required of all chemical engineering, chemistry, and biochemistry majors.  In this new experiment, based on the SERC kits and documentation, students explore the thermodynamics and efficiency of a hydrogen fuel cell and compare these results with the performance of the electrolyzer that produces the hydrogen and oxygen used in the fuel cell.

“The availability of the SERC resources has allowed the successful introduction of hydrogen fuel cells to our course with a relatively quick and easy adaptation, and the student response has been very positive,” said Dr. Clayton Baum, professor of chemistry at FIT.

The H2E3 project met its objectives and is no longer receiving financial support from DOE. However, we continue to maintain the project website at hydrogencurriculum.org and offer the experiment kits and fuel cell test stations for sale. We welcome inquiries from instructors in any field interested in incorporating this hydrogen energy curriculum in your courses.

Hydrogen Education Pursues National Audience

In January, SERC submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation to expand our work in hydrogen education with the goal of reaching a national audience. Working with proposal partners at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI, and San Francisco State University, we proposed to create a new “Teaching Energy Concepts with Hydrogen” (TECH2) project. This project would build on our recently completed (see January 2012 post) three year Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) curriculum in which we worked with California universities in both the CSU and UC systems. The proposed TECH2 project would reach nearly 5,000 freshman engineering students across the country.

Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education

The H2E3 fuel cell/electrolyzer kits in ENGR 115

The H2E3 fuel cell/electrolyzer kits in Engineering 115 (Photo credit Kellie Brown).

In September we brought the Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) project to a successful conclusion. Over the three years the project was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, five universities adopted the curriculum for use in engineering, chemistry, and environmental science courses. In the closing months of the project, we completed our last instructional videos and provided DOE with a draft final report, currently undergoing review. The project will remain alive via its website (www.hydrogencurriculum.org), and we’re always interested in talking with educators who wish to adopt the curriculum. The hydrogen experiment kits and fuel cell test stations featured on the project website can be made to order; please contact us for a quote. We’re now in the process of seeking funding and partners to continue development and dissemination of the curriculum and commercialization of the lab equipment.

Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education

This article was written by Brett Selvig and Ryan Dunne

H2E3 Ryan and Brett

Brett Selvig and Ryan Dunne assemble a test setup around a PEM fuel cell. (Photo credit Protonex Technology Corporation.)

As part of the Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education project, SERC facilitated internships at Protonex Technology Corporation for the summer of 2011 for two students. After submitting resumes and being interviewed over the phone, we were selected for the ten week positions. Our initial hesitation about leaving our friends and familiar nook in Arcata for Massachusetts was soon outweighed by excitement about getting to work with cutting edge fuel cell technology.

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SERC to Provide Fuel Cell Kits to San Francisco State University

The H2E3 fuel cell/electrolyzer kits in ENGR 115

The H2E3 fuel cell/electrolyzer kits in ENGR 115 (Photo credit Kellie Jo Brown).

Since 2009, SERC’s Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) project, with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, has produced over 50 hydrogen experiment kits that have been made available on loan to engineering departments at University of California and California State University campuses. Each kit includes an electrolyzer for generating hydrogen, a fuel cell for generating electricity with the hydrogen, and instruments for making measurements of system efficiency. SERC has developed a set of lab activities that incorporate the kit.

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H2 Education Project Goes Public

H2E3 Instructional Video

Still from an instructional video for the H2E3 curriculum.

Our Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) project continues to grow as it enters its third year. This semester we brought hydrogen-related curriculum to five engineering and environmental science courses at Humboldt State, including new activities for a probability and statistics class, an upper- division renewable energy course, and a new thermodynamics class for non-engineering students.

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H2E3 Project Delivers Equipment and Lecture to UC Berkeley

H2E3 Delivery

(left to right) SERC’s Richard Engel and Peter Lehman and UC Berkeley’s Tim Lipman and Dan Kammen gather around the fuel cell test station during its delivery to UCB. (Photo by Eileen Cashman.)

On November 12, SERC’s Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) project achieved a major milestone with the delivery of a fuel cell test station and a dozen benchtop fuel cell/electrolyzer kits to University of California, Berkeley. Director Peter Lehman, faculty research associate Eileen Cashman, and H2E3 project manager Richard Engel made the trek to UCB to hand off the newly completed equipment, all built in-house at SERC.

While at UCB, Peter and Richard demonstrated the test station and presented a well-received lecture on fuel cells to nearly 200 undergrad and grad students in a course on energy and society taught by Dr. Dan Kammen of UCB’s Energy and Resources Group.

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University Curriculum Project

H2E3 Fuel Cell / Electrolyzer Kit

H2E3 Fuel Cell / Electrolyzer Kit (Photo credit Kellie Jo Brown)

Since our last update, we have completed fabrication of two dozen benchtop fuel cell/electrolyzer kits and one of two fuel cell test stations to be built as part of the Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) project (see pictures, below). The purpose of the DOE-funded H2E3 project is to bring hands-on hydrogen and fuel cell education into classrooms and labs across the University of California and California State University systems. University of California, Berkeley and several fuel cell companies are partnering with SERC on the project.

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University Hydrogen Curriculum Update

H2E3 Fuel Cell / Electrolyzer Kit

H2E3 Fuel Cell / Electrolyzer Kit (Photo credit Kellie Jo Brown)

SERC’s Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) project continues to pick up steam. We are now building the first of the two fuel cell test stations we will make for use in undergraduate engineering labs. The stations will be temporarily installed on a rotating basis at California State University and University of California campuses over the next two years. After surveying available fuel cells from commercial suppliers, we decided to build our own stacks for use with the test stations. The stations and stacks will be completed during the coming months.

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University H2 Curriculum Project Gets Underway

The H2E3 fuel cell/electrolyzer kits in ENGR 115

The H2E3 fuel cell/electrolyzer kits in ENGR 115 (Photo credit Kellie Jo Brown).

In our last issue, we announced that SERC was selected for funding by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop hydrogen curriculum and teaching tools for use in California’s public universities. We now have a contract in place with DOE, and on October 30 we held a kickoff meeting with our project partners at the University of California at Berkeley. We have named the three-year project “Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education” (H2E3).

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