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Hydrogen proves key to a sustainable energy home

CSULA team finishes top 10 in 2011 Hydrogen Student Design Contest

Students talk hydrogen:

A design model of the CSULA Hydrogen Home Fuel Station.

Helping to open the doors to a more sustainable future, a team of Cal State L.A. students designed an apartment complex concept that included a hydrogen hub for hydrogen fueling that achieved a savings of $700 per year in fuel and an 18 percent deduction of carbon emission.

The CSULA project, entitled “H2OMe: Hydrogen Home Fueling Station,” recently finished top 10 in the Hydrogen Education Foundation’s 2011 Hydrogen Student Design Contest. CSULA accumulated a score of 71.4 percent and was listed in no. 7 in a competition against 54 teams from 19 countries and five continents.

This year’s contest theme, “Residential Fueling with Hydrogen,” addresses the challenge of fueling infrastructure development by focusing on concepts for small-scale hydrogen production. As a part of the entry, teams developed a technical design; conducted an economic analysis; and developed business, marketing, and public education plans for their systems.

According to CSULA’s project synopsis, “The edifice is a five-story residential building that is strategically placed in the bustling part of Santa Monica. It consists of an apartment complex above a market place, retail shops, eateries and a H2OMe: Center for Sustainable Education on the first floor. The residential building provides free hydrogen fuel as an incentive to attract tenants. The hydrogen is produced through electrolysis via solar electricity. The complex includes a total of 40 fuel cell vehicles, three hydrogen dispensers, and a storage capacity of 60 kilogram (kg).”

Under the direction of faculty adviser David Blekhman, associate professor of technology in the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology, the CSULA team included students Mark Anthony Aguilar, Keith Bacosa, Annette Barraza, Julio Cesar Cardenas, Christino Castro, Dennis Chimn, Rolando Elvira, Pamela Green, Hector Nava, Jose Padilla, Fakhrul Shawaludin, and Michael Strada.

Photo of members of the CSULA Hydrogen Home Fueling Station team.
Pictured (l-r): CSULA students Mark Anthony Aguilar, Jose Padilla, Hector Nava, Michael Strada, Rolando Elvira, Fakhrul Shawaludin, and Professor David Blekhman in front of the construction of CSULA’s Sustainable Hydrogen Facility, which will become a cornerstone of training in alternative fuels and advanced transportation technologies at CSULA.

Nava, the CSULA team’s captain and marketing education coordinator, explained, “Located on the first floor as a storefront, H2OMe will integrate the education center and local shops into the community. It will serve as a catalyst to deploy hydrogen education to the general public but also generate income to pay the cost of rent and maintenance of the hydrogen station.”

“The water utilized for our hydrogen residential fueling station will come from the city water supply and a supplemental source from our rainwater harvesting,” said Strada, who worked on the H2OMe design model with another group of engineering students at East Los Angeles College.

The concept for the CSULA system uses four Avalence Hydrofiller 175 electrolyser units, each producing 10 kg of hydrogen per day for a total of 40 kg hydrogen production per day. Through renewable energy, the electricity used to power the electrolyser will come indirectly from its 200 kilowatt (kW) grid tied solar panel array.

Click here to view a chart illustrating how the H2OMe Hydrogen Generation System works.

“Based on our economic business analysis, it would cost $2.93 per kg of hydrogen, or $12 to fuel a 4 kg fuel cell vehicle. It’ll be a total of $700 savings annually!” shared Padilla, who worked with Elvira on comparing the well-to-wheel analysis.

The team concluded that driving a fuel cell vehicle instead of a gasoline vehicle will also decrease emissions by 75 grams of carbon dioxide per mile, which is an 18 percent reduction to the carbon footprint of a gas-powered vehicle, and that is not calculating the carbon emission released when transporting petroleum-based fuel to gas stations.

Sponsored by Honda, the U.S. Department of Energy, Proton Energy Systems, International Association for Hydrogen Energy and Praxair, the contest is designed to encourage innovation and student participation while challenging them to develop solutions to key issues facing the hydrogen and fuel cell industry.

For the complete H2OMe project report:

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Last Update: 01/12/2016