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Plug-In Hybrid Fuel Cell Vehicle Courtesy U. of Waterloo

The students at the University of Waterloo in Ontario Canada are not making their last stand but their first in developing a hydrogen fuel cell plug-in hybrid vehicle that one day may be commercialized. Now, a couple of the major automakers have already come up with such a vehicle such as the Ford HySeries Edge and the Chevy Volt Hydrogen.

But, at the university level building a plug-in hybrid fuel cell vehicle is a bit of a novelty as it is more complex than one would imagine. The University of Waterloo team has some experience with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles building one a few years earlier for the Challenge X competition.

Now into the third year of the EcoCar Challenge the students and faculty have turned a Saturn Vue into not only a hybrid, but a plug-in hybrid that also runs on hydrogen fuel cell.

According to team captain Michael Giannikouris the challenge is, “You have the fuel cell which operates at a certain voltage, and the battery at a different voltage. If we just took a big cable and hooked it from the fuel cell to the battery to the motor and turned it on, our fuel cell would charge our battery uncontrollably, because the voltage is too high. We use a D/C to D/C power converter. They’re new and there’s little available commercially, so we decided to build our own. It’s been unbelievably difficult, but we have a few people who are very good at this.”

The University of Waterloo may not win the EcoCar battle, but the “War on Oil” is on and university students everywhere will be an important part of this “Decade of Rage” against the fossil fuel industry which is holding us hostage with high gasoline prices. We want our energy independence now and the University of Waterloo is helping us take one small step towards this goal.

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen auto blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen autos, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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One comment

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    This plug-in feature is why fuel cell autos and hydrogen are practical contrary to our new D.O.E. staff’s beliefs.When they calculate the total amount of hydrogen to replace petro that is needed they have never figured in that most of the miles driven in an auto are daily commuting which will be powered through the battery pack(grid power) and the fuel cell and hydrogen are merely a range extender that will be mostly used out of the urban areas.If you don’t drive more than 40 or 50 miles a day then you will never need the hydrogen.If battery autos are 95% efficient and fuel cells are 40% efficient then a battery/fuel cell auto is 90% efficient and extremely practical.All fuel cell autos must have a battery pack.Not only do I think that they have over estimated the amount of hydrogen needed but also the amount of refueling stations and where they think they will need to be placed.The first station that I will need to see is 40 miles out of town and then about every 200-300 miles after that ,not all clustered in the inner cities.Delivery,Taxi and others that drive more than the 40 mile battery range will be almost entirely of commercial nature and could afford to buy their own refueling equiptment.But even with all that said our electrical output through renewable sources must be increased substancially.

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