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Hydrogen Student Design Contest Inspires and Opens Doors

September 28, 2011 - 3:22pm

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A hydrogen-powered Toyota Prius pulls up to Humboldt State University's student designed hydrogen fueling station.

A hydrogen-powered Toyota Prius pulls up to Humboldt State University's student designed hydrogen fueling station.

Since 2004, the Hydrogen Student Design Contest has challenged university students from across the globe to use their skills in design, engineering, economics, environmental science, business and marketing to devise innovative hydrogen energy applications for real-world use.

“You have to innovative and you have to stretch yourself—it was a powerful experience for all of us,” said Juliette Bohn, who, along with fellow team members from Humboldt State University, won the 2005 competition.

As part of the competition, which is co-sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Program, the Humboldt State University design team submitted a proposal for a Hydrogen Power Park that converts landfill gas to electricity, heat and hydrogen vehicle fuel.

The team’s proposal generated significant buzz at the competition: “We received a very good response, a lot of industry partners were interested in our design,” said Juliette. There was so much interest that Chevron Corporation, along with Humboldt State’s Schatz Energy Research Center, worked with the students to fund feasibility studies that allowed them to explore options for bringing their concept from design to implementation.

The effort culminated with the construction of a Hydrogen Fueling station, built and unveiled by the Schatz Research Center in 2008. The station resides on Humboldt State’s campus, where it currently fuels a hydrogen-powered Toyota Prius and a Toyota Highlander fuel cell hybrid.

Today, Juliette is a Program Analyst for the Humboldt Waste Management Authority where she’s hard at work on a pilot scale project to test methods for diverting food waste from the area landfill in order to generate renewable energy. She explained that this chosen career path is a direct result of her Hydrogen Student Design Contest experience. “It was amazing and it allowed me to be successful in what I do now,” she said.

Registration for the 2012 Hydrogen Student Design Contest is open until November 1, 2011.

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