Five students from different faculties on the North-West University’s Potchefstroom Campus recently took part in an international hydrogen science competition, and showed the world that the NWU is a university to be reckoned with.
Since 2004, the American based Hydrogen Education Foundation student design contest has challenged multi-disciplinary teams of university students around the world to apply their creativity and academic skills in the areas of design, engineering, economics, environmental science, business and marketing to the hydrogen and fuel cell industries. This year’s challenge was to develop a Drop-in Hydrogen Fuelling Station, where students from the NWU Potchefstroom Campus walked away with an international fifth place.”
According to the students’ faculty advisor, Dr Dmitri Bessarabov from the faculty of Engineering, the contest challenged undergraduate and graduate students to design a hydrogen fuelling module that fulfils the requirements of low-cost, easy permitting, low-maintenance, mass-production, and transportability in order to create a model for a reliable, convenient and reasonably priced refuelling experience for all hydrogen fuel cell vehicle customers.
The motivation behind the contest was simple – Hydrogen infrastructure development is one of the most important challenges for the rapid commercialization of zero-emission fuel cell electric vehicles. Drivers of these vehicles need to know that they can rely on available fuelling stations in their area to reduce range-anxiety.
The Hydrogen Education Foundation says that hydrogen fuel suppliers need to be able to react to increasing fuelling demand and may be interested in expanding early stations modularly or moving early smaller stations to new start-up markets and rebuilding on early sites. One way to address the problem is the development of low-cost drop-in fuelling stations that require minimal set-up, operation and expense to meet the initial demand for fuelling in areas that do not have a well-developed hydrogen fuelling infrastructure.
Bessarabov says South Africa does not have full educational curricula on the subject, and only a few students at the NWU are capable to participate, facing competition from well-established and experienced institutions.
Contest participants included 14 teams of students from the United States, Egypt, India, Japan, Taiwan, South Africa, and China. Representatives from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and industry announced Washington State University was the Grand Prize Winner, their second award in the history of the contest.
See the NWU Faculty of Engineering’s video about their on-going hydrogen research.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYltaDJ5Jlo