Virginia Tech Students Receive $250,000 Fuel Cell From DOE For The 1998-99 Futurecar Challenge

December 03, 1997

BLACKSBURG, Dec. 3, 1997 - As participants in the 1998-99 FutureCar Challenge, Virginia Tech engineering students will receive a hydrogen-powered fuel cell worth $250,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and a new Chevrolet Lumina from General Motors.

DOE contributed two hydrogen-powered fuel cells to the challenge this year. The 14 engineering schools participating in the challenge were invited to submit competing proposals for the fuel cells, and Virginia Tech and Texas Tech University were selected as the recipients.

Sponsored by the Big Three automakers and the DOE, the FutureCar Challenge enables engineering students to help design the next generation of fuel-efficient, low-emissions cars that meet high standards of comfort, safety and consumer satisfaction

This is the second round of the challenge. In 1996, the Virginia Tech entry, a Chevrolet Lumina converted into a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) by a team of more than 50 engineering students, placed best overall for the first year of the first round, and was ranked second best overall during the 1997 phase of the competition.

Doug Nelson, a professor of mechanical engineering and Virginia Tech's Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team faculty advisor, said the team will replace the current Lumina's engine with a battery pack for large power requirements, as they did for the 1996-97 challenge. However, instead of again using a propane-powered engine as backup power, this year the Tech students will devise a method of using the hydrogen-powered fuel cell.

The fuel cell system is an advanced technology that DOE is experimenting with for transportation systems, Nelson said. The greatest advantage of hydrogen-powered fuel cells, which produce energy via a chemical reaction rather than combustion, is that they emit no air pollutants. When the Tech students combine a battery pack with the fuel cell in the Lumina, the hybrid vehicle will produce zero emissions.

The fuel cell stack will be supplied by Energy Partners of West Palm Beach, Florida in the late spring of 1998, making preparation for the June 1998 FutureCar Challenge critical, Nelson said. The Tech team will be responsible for developing the fuel cell subsystems needed to make an onboard power system, hydrogen fuel storage and supply, air compressor and motor drive, humidification, thermal and water management, DC power processing, and controls.

While the Virginia Tech students developed several safety and convenience modifications to their Lumina for the 1996-97 challenge, as well as perfecting the combination of battery pack and propane engine for power, during the 1998-99 challenge they will focus on making the most effective use of the fuel cell in combination with the battery pack.
Virginia Tech Contacts:

Doug Nelson, faculty advisor - 540-231-4324

Michael Ogburn, team leader - 540-231-7457

Virginia Tech

Related Fuel Cells Articles from Brightsurf:

Fuel cells for hydrogen vehicles are becoming longer lasting
An international research team led by the University of Bern has succeeded in developing an electrocatalyst for hydrogen fuel cells which, in contrast to the catalysts commonly used today, does not require a carbon carrier and is therefore much more stable.

Scientists develop new material for longer-lasting fuel cells
New research suggests that graphene -- made in a specific way -- could be used to make more durable hydrogen fuel cells for cars

AI could help improve performance of lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells
Imperial College London researchers have demonstrated how machine learning could help design lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells with better performance.

Engineers develop new fuel cells with twice the operating voltage as hydrogen
Engineers at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St.

Iodide salts stabilise biocatalysts for fuel cells
Contrary to theoretical predictions, oxygen inactivates biocatalysts for energy conversion within a short time, even under a protective film.

Instant hydrogen production for powering fuel cells
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing and Tsinghua University, Beijing investigate real-time, on-demand hydrogen generation for use in fuel cells, which are a quiet and clean form of energy.

Ammonia for fuel cells
Researchers at the University of Delaware have identified ammonia as a source for engineering fuel cells that can provide a cheap and powerful source for fueling cars, trucks and buses with a reduced carbon footprint.

Microorganisms build the best fuel efficient hydrogen cells
With billions of years of practice, nature has created the most energy efficient machines.

Atomically precise models improve understanding of fuel cells
Simulations from researchers in Japan provide new insights into the reactions occurring in solid-oxide fuel cells by using realistic atomic-scale models of the electrode active site based on microscope observations instead of the simplified and idealized atomic structures employed in previous studies.

New core-shell catalyst for ethanol fuel cells
Scientists at Brookhaven Lab and the University of Arkansas have developed a highly efficient catalyst for extracting electrical energy from ethanol, an easy-to-store liquid fuel that can be generated from renewable resources.

Read More: Fuel Cells News and Fuel Cells Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to