Discipline: Technology and Engineering
Subcategory: Electrical Engineering
Austin Hahn - San Antonio College
Co-Author(s): Camila Miglio, San Antonio College, San Antonio, TX; Luis Navarro Barrera, San Antonio College, San Antonio, TX; Joshua Chavana, San Antonio College, San Antonio, TX
San Antonio College (SAC) students built a second prototype Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle (HFCV) that competed in the April 2018 Shell Eco-marathon Americas fuel-efficiency event. The goal of this research is to substantially increase the efficiency of SAC’s HFCV by optimizing the electrical subsystem. This research is important because ultra-energy-efficient vehicles are critical for a sustainable transportation future. The research team hypothesized that the current, heavily used 1000 Watt hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) and the existing electric bicycle hub-motor are less efficient than alternatives. Testing of the HFC determined its efficiency had decreased an average of 15% since it was new in 2016. Based on this and extensive research, the team recommended purchase of a new and smaller (500 Watt) fuel cell, and a lighter lithium-ion accessory battery for the 2019 HFCV. A dynamometer was built and used to measure the efficiency of 3 non-hub electric motors, which research suggests are more efficient than bicycle hub-motors. Dynamometer testing revealed that the Turnigy Sk8 was the most efficient non-hub motor over the testing load with an average efficiency of 73.48%. The dynamometer couldn’t be used to test the existing hub motor. As a result, HFCV operational testing of both hub and non-hub motors is recommended to determine the most efficient configuration. In summary, switching to a new 500W HFC and using a non-hub DC electric motor, such as the Turnigy SK8, should significantly increase the fuel economy of the vehicle. Also, research suggests that greatly increasing the size of the HFC supercapacitor to create a hybrid system could substantially increase fuel economy. As such, testing of a hybrid configuration is recommended as well.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): CIMA-LSAMP ; The National Science Foundation
Faculty Advisor: Klaus Bartels, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: I was the leader of the project, so I performed most of the administrative tasks such as managing resources and assigning tasks within the project. I assisted in performing the hydrogen fuel cell tests. For the most part I built the dynamometer we used to perform the experiments, although the design of it was more collaborative. I also analyzed all the data gained during the experiments we performed. Also, I communicated with a student from Duke university, another participant of the Shell Eco-Marathon, to gain insight into the use of Supercapacitors as a means to increase fuel economy.