SERC Engineers Greg Chapman (left) and Mark Rocheleau with the new 700 bar compressor. (Photo credit Andrea Alstone.)
SERC is now beginning the construction phase of our hydrogen station upgrade project. When it’s complete, the upgrade will allow us to completely fill our Toyota fuel cell car with 6 kg of hydrogen. That will give us a 400-mile range, enough to travel to the Bay Area or Sacramento and back.
The new 700 bar compressor has arrived and the on-site work for the fueling station upgrade is in progress. The extension to the east block wall is complete and our design has been reviewed and approved by an independent engineer with experience in hydrogen systems. In the coming weeks the compressor will be moved to its final location (no small task) and plumbing and electrical work can begin. We’re excited to see the upgrade taking shape; stay tuned for more updates.
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.
Emeryville firefighters pose in front of the latest AC Transit fuel cell bus during a SERC hydrogen awareness and safety training (Photo credit SERC).
Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District, more commonly known as AC Transit, boasts the largest hydrogen fuel cell bus program in the United States, and one of the largest in the world. This places them on the leading edge introducing hydrogen and fuel cell vehicle technology. Their HyRoad fuel cell vehicle demonstration program has operated since 2000. This program includes fuel cell bus and light duty fuel cell vehicle operation, on-site hydrogen production, delivery and storage of hydrogen produced off-site, hydrogen vehicle fueling, hydrogen vehicle maintenance, safety training, and public education. Throughout the project period, SERC has partnered with AC Transit, providing education and outreach, training, and consulting services.
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.
This article was written by Brett Selvig and Ryan Dunne
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.
SERC Senior Research Engineer Greg Chapman trains Professor Shamim and Graduate Student Abishek Raj of Masdar Institute on operation of the fuel cell test station. Photo credit Marc Marshall.
SERC engineers Greg Chapman and Marc Marshall recently traveled to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to deliver a custom-built fuel cell test station to Professor Tariq Shamim at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. The test station, built using SERC’s new compact, portable form factor, took less than a day to uncrate and prepare for use. Greg and Marc spent the remainder of their visit training Professor Shamim, his colleague Professor Mohamed I. H. Ali, and graduate student Abishek Raj in the use of the test station.
Humboldt State University Hydrogen Fueling Station (Photo credit Kellie Jo Brown).
SERC has recently received a Caltrans grant to increase the delivery pressure capacity of the HSU hydrogen fueling station. Currently the station stores hydrogen gas at 420 bar (6,000 pounds per square inch), and can fill a vehicle’s tank to 350 bar (5,000 psi). The upgrade will allow for fueling up to 700 bar (10,000 psi). Newer fuel cell vehicles, such as the Toyota FCHV-adv currently on loan at HSU from UC Berkeley, have storage tanks rated for 700 bar storage, which almost doubles the amount of hydrogen that can be stored onboard.
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.
Investigating Alternative Energy: Hydrogen & Fuel Cells was published by project partner Lab-Aids, Inc. in March 2011.
We are excited to announce that the Hydrogen Technology and Energy Curriculum (HyTEC) project’s high school chemistry module titled, Investigating Alternative Energy: Hydrogen & Fuel Cells was published by project partner Lab-Aids, Inc. in March 2011 (see the cover, below). The module is comprised of six activities and introduces students to hydrogen and fuel cells in the context of energy for transportation.
The publication of the module is the culmination of six years of hard work between SERC and Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS). There have been many meetings, teacher training workshops, and iterations with Barbara Nagle and her colleagues at LHS. It’s rewarding to see our curriculum published and available to high school students across the country.
Instructor Ron Poor with Southwestern Community College’s new Stack-Outside-the-Box™. Photo credit Southwestern Community College.
On March 10th of this year, the second Stack-Outside-the-Box™ (SOtB™) that SERC has produced was delivered to Southwestern Community College in Sylva, North Carolina. Receiving the unit was Ron Poor, head of the Electronics Engineering Technology program. Last year, seeking to include the concepts of hydrogen based renewable energy in the curriculum, Ron secured a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission for the purchase of this bench-top fuel cell power system. “We’ve never seen Ron so excited,” the electronics and computer technology students said when the SOtB™ arrived; they were quoted in the hometown Sylva Herald newspaper.