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 Intelligent components for the power grid of the future
18.04.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Real-time layer thickness measurement with terahertz
17.04.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

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: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

Im Focus: The Future of Ultrafast Solid-State Physics

In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.

Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...

Im Focus: Stronger evidence for a weaker Atlantic overturning

The Atlantic overturning – one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards – is weaker today than any time before in more than 1000 years. Sea surface temperature data analysis provides new evidence that this major ocean circulation has slowed down by roughly 15 percent since the middle of the 20th century, according to a study published in the highly renowned journal Nature by an international team of scientists. Human-made climate change is a prime suspect for these worrying observations.

“We detected a specific pattern of ocean cooling south of Greenland and unusual warming off the US coast – which is highly characteristic for a slowdown of the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New capabilities at NSLS-II set to advance materials science

18.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Strong carbon fiber artificial muscles can lift 12,600 times their own weight

18.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Polymer-graphene nanocarpets to electrify smart fabrics

18.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>