Thinking about hydrogen infrastructure at the Stanford Cleantech hackathon

Apr 25, 2020 · 267 words · 2 minute read Science

This week I had the great pleasure of competing in the Stanford Cleantech Challenge, a hackathon aimed at developing new technologies and innovations in clean energy.

After hearing about the competition in my school’s newsletter, I forwarded it to my friend Chloe with the always-effective caption “Yo what’s the chance you would want to sign up for this?” Naturally, she agreed and we registered for the event, not having even read the description.

We then befriended two engineering students from Paris who we met in a Slack group and formed the aptly-named French-Canadian Entente. Together, we came up with a novel way to reduce the cost of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for heavy-duty fuel cell truck fleets. Currently, the adoption of hydrogen technology in truck fleets is limited by the cost of hydrogen production and distribution. The hydrogen must either be produced on-site, which is expensive, or produced at a central facility and transported using tankers or pipelines, which is both expensive and inefficient. Our solution was to make use of the long-range and storage capacity of FCEVs (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles) to transport additional hydrogen from a central production facility to peripheral refuelling stations along their routes. This eliminates the need for pipelines or on-site electrolysis while minimizing the burden on trucking companies. You can watch our full presentation on YouTube or view our slides here.

We neither won the competition nor received any recognition for our efforts, but we are all extremely proud of our idea and presentation. Most of all, it was a pleasure make two new friends across the world and make something together.

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