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 How protons move through a fuel cell
22.06.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

nachricht Fraunhofer IZFP acquires lucrative EU project for increasing nuclear power plant safety
21.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

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: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Innovative LED High Power Light Source for UV

22.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mathematical confirmation: Rewiring financial networks reduces systemic risk

22.06.2017 | Business and Finance

Spin liquids − back to the roots

22.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>