Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Obstacles fall to feasibility of hybrid fuel cell vehicle

20.08.2002


A series of obstacles fell before the onslaught of a Penn State engineering graduate class as they tackled and found solutions to all the barriers preventing development of a hybrid fuel cell automobile using hydrogen fuel cells and battery storage.



"The professors asked the class to solve the problem of hydrogen odorization," says Jamie Weston, graduate student in energy and geoenvironmental engineering. "We quickly came up with a solution and, took the rest of the course to develop our solution and follow the problems as far as we could."

The students -- Mike Sprague, Hui Long, Ramya Venkataraman, Patrick Flynn, Eric Wolfe and Weston -- are all in Penn State’s Energy and Geoenvironmental Engineering program and took the hands-on fuel science class taught by Alan W. Scaroni, head and professor, Andre Boehman, associate professor, and Sarma V. Pisupati, associate professor in the department.


Hydrogen is a colorless and odorless gas. The U.S. government mandates that all flammable gases must, by law, have an odor. The chemicals used to add a smell to the gas, limit the possibility of using the hydrogen in a fuel cell because the chemicals often poison the cells.

"We came up with a simple system that removes the odorant with adsorbers and then tests to ensure that all the odorant is removed before sending the hydrogen to solid storage and fuel cell," says Weston.

Fuel cells convert the chemical potential of hydrogen and oxygen to electrical potential with heat and water without burning the hydrogen. For a fuel cell to work, the hydrogen must be ultra pure.

Another problem in the conceptualization of hybrid fuel cell vehicles is hydrogen storage. While hydrogen is easily stored as a compressed gas, safety concerns swayed the students to use a technically feasible solid storage method. The students chose a metal hydride system based on magnesium.

The hydrogen in the magnesium hydride is stable up to 554 degrees Fahrenheit, but once heated above that temperature, hydrogen gas is released. The five-passenger General Motors Precept electrical vehicle would require the energy from about 23 pounds of hydrogen to travel 500 miles, the researchers told attendees today (Aug. 19) at the 224th American Chemical Society annual meeting in Boston. The students designed their system for this 500-mile limit.

Fuel cells are not the sole energy source in this hybrid automobile. The battery stacks, which may be charged from an outlet in the garage or by the fuel cells are the primary source of power for short trips and in town driving. The batteries will also power the electric heating units that heat up sections of the magnesium hydride, once the battery stack is drained to a certain capacity. Excess energy from the fuel cells will also recharge the batteries.

"Batteries are now being reduced in size, so the weight of the batteries and the hydrogen fuel system will not make the car too heavy," says Weston. "Because most of the hydrogen is stored as a solid, the automobile may be as safe as today’s cars."

The magnesium hydride fuel storage system is not combustible or pyrophoric, so the stored fuel will not burn or explode. Also, at any time in the system, only a small amount of hydrogen is present as a gas, never leaving enough enclosed hydrogen gas to explode. The fuel cell stack is separate from the rest of the system and well vented. In the case of an accident, mechanical sensors would shut off the hydrogen generation.

Andrea Elyse Messer | EurekAlert!

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht New test procedure for developing quick-charging lithium-ion batteries
07.12.2017 | Forschungszentrum Jülich

nachricht Plug & Play Light Solution for NOx measurement
01.12.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

Blockchain is becoming more important in the energy market

05.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New research identifies how 3-D printed metals can be both strong and ductile

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

11.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

What makes corals sick?

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>