An integral part of the EcoCAR 2 competition is securing individual team sponsors, enabling the execution of each unique vehicle. For the Colorado State University Vehicle Innovation Team’s (CSU VIT) Fuel Cell Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (FCPHEV) the high pressure hydrogen storage system was a top priority. Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cells on-board the team’s vehicle require the delivery of hydrogen as a fuel which must be stored in compressed gas cylinders to achieve desirable driving range.
As hydrogen gains popularity, the systems required to support the vehicles continue to advance. Modern hydrogen storage systems operate at an SAE standard 5,000 psi (350bar), are rated for transportation use (DOT certification), consist of advanced materials such as carbon fiber and offer unparalleled safety in the event of vehicle impact or fire. The high technology of hydrogen cylinders comes at a cost, however, and can often be difficult to procure without expensive custom orders.
Hydrogenics was identified by the CSU VIT (with some help from the University of Waterloo) as a possible supplier for hydrogen storage systems. After some negotiation, a deal was struck and the donation of three cylinders was secured; greatly reducing the fundraising burden on the team. Now the team was tasked with retrieving the cylinders from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, 1,500 miles away.
Over the course of the 3,000+ mile road trip, the team observed a life size Tyrannosaurus Rex on the side of the highway, the birthplaces of both John Wayne and Ronald Regan, seven states and a province, three time zones, speed limit signs that read 100 (albeit km/hr) and lots and lots of farms. After a mere 48 hours of exploring the northern portions of the United States and southern Canada, the CSU VIT finally had three high pressure hydrogen cylinders in its shop at the CSU Motorsports Engineering Research Center (MERC). All of the puzzle pieces continue to fall into place for the demonstration of CSU VIT’s FCPHEV. Much thanks to Hydrogenics, Dynetek, Colorado State University, and the University of Waterloo.