Humboldt State University

Schatz Energy Research Center

Hydrogen Curriculum

Two students in protective eyewear work with fuel cell lab kits.

Over many years, SERC has completed two major curriculum projects to bring hydrogen energy education to university and high school students. We have also developed a number of teaching tools that bring the excitement of hydrogen energy to students in classrooms and laboratories.

Hydrogen Technology and Energy Curriculum

A product photo of an assembled HyTec kit

In partnership with the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley, SERC developed the Hydrogen Technology and Energy Curriculum (HyTEC), targeted at high school chemistry and environmental science classes. The curriculum is a two-week module that features hands-on laboratory activities, readings and calculations, and issues based role-play activities. As part of this project, SERC got involved in curriculum development, teacher training, pilot testing in the classroom, and the development of hands-on laboratory kits that feature student-operated fuel cells and electrolyzers.

Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education

A product photo of an H2E3 fuel cell and electrolyzer kit

The Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) project ran from September 2008 to September 2011 with support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The mission of the H2E3 project was to develop, test, distribute, and promote curriculum and laboratory equipment for teaching university engineering students about hydrogen and fuel cell technologies through lectures, readings, and hands-on laboratory activities. The project also created internships with a fuel cell company for students who participated in the H2E3 curriculum.

SERC created the three-year program to address a lack of hands-on hydrogen and fuel cell learning opportunities for undergraduate engineering students. The project deliverables included lesson plans and hardware for laboratory activities. These educational materials are available for use at all University of California and California State University engineering programs, with the ultimate aim of achieving national distribution.

Educational Equipment

SERC’s education and outreach efforts make use of fuel cell equipment and interpretive materials developed and fabricated here at SERC. We have designed and built complete fuel cell power systems for educational demonstrations and single-cell fuel cell kits for hands-on use in high school and college science laboratory classes. We also design interpretive signs and brochures to educate the public about hydrogen energy in general and to highlight features of our individual systems.

SERC’s Stack-in-a-Box® portable fuel cell system

The Stack-in-a-Box® (SIB®) is a portable fuel cell system that can be used to educate people about hydrogen and fuel cells. It is designed to allow people of all ages and backgrounds to learn how fuel cells work. Everyone from young students to industry specialists quickly become comfortable operating the system, which has proven to be an effective educational tool.


The Stack-Outside-the-Box™ (SoTB™) is a bench-top educational fuel cell system and has the basic features of the SIB®, such as compactness and portability in a fully contained system, yet with a number of changes making it more conducive to extended laboratory use.

The lack of a case allows the individual components to be located with fewer space constraints and more accessibility. This increases the visibility of and manual access to the various components, enabling students to work more efficiently and understand system operation more easily.

For ease of transportation the SOtB™ system operates on the hydrogen contained in a small lecture bottle, but when ongoing stationary use is expected, there is a port for connecting to a large industrial size K-bottle. This provides a much larger supply of hydrogen for extended operation.

An eight-channel data acquisition system allows students to record operating data including cell voltages and stack temperature while varying the operating conditions. This will allow students to perform detailed measurements on the SERC fuel cell stack, or other stacks that the user may acquire.

This system has two cooling fans (versus just one in the SIB®) to provide improved cooling.

Student Fuel Cell/Electrolyzer Kit

SERC has developed two different benchtop fuel cell/electrolyzer kits that allow students to generate hydrogen using grid electricity or an optional solar cell or hand-cranked dynamo. The hydrogen can be stored and used to generate electricity using the included single-cell PEM fuel cell. This electricity can in turn be used to power a mechanical load. The students can measure the electrolyzer’s electricity consumption, volume of hydrogen produced, rate of hydrogen consumption, electrical power produced by the fuel cell, and mechanical work performed using the fuel cell’s electrical output. These data can be used to calculate component efficiencies.

These kits have been used in many high schools and universities in California and have proven to be a great tool for learning about chemistry, energy, and hydrogen. The kits include instruction and experiment manuals and everything required to perform the experiments except potassium hydroxide electrolyte needed to operate the electrolyzer. The kit developed for high school use is now being commercially produced by Lab-Aids, Inc.

Equipment described on this page is available for sale from SERC in any quantity, with customization as needed. Please contact us for pricing and delivery time.