Hydrogen cars have the potential to outdo their electric counterpart yet current models lack the technology to do so. Today, most hydrogen fuel is produced through the use of fossil fuels which lead to pollution. Electrolysis, the splitting of water molecules with electricity, is a viable pollution-free alternative. Our innovation simulates the environment within a potential hydrogen engine to determine if the production of hydrogen is sufficient to power a car in order for it to compete with gasoline engines. Our water filled container runs electricity through two stainless steel electrodes to split H⁺ and O⁻, which are collected within balloons to measure change in volume over time. We concluded that the addition of sodium hydroxide, our catalyst, results in a moderate increase in efficiency. However, this method requires greater development as it has yet to reach the level of production necessary to surpass gasoline. This research is crucial because once hydrogen production, storage, and distribution are further developed, it is expected to eradicate competing fuel sources due to significant improvements in all aspects of its use. The greatest obstacle hydrogen cars face is that the public needs to be educated on both its existence and benefits. Our project has increased awareness of the issue within our community while allowing us to gain a deeper understanding of the subject and its underlying technicalities.
What inspired you (or your team)?
Of the countless articles I’ve perused, one that I can recall with great clarity was a publication on Stanford Earth titled “New technique brings clean hydrogen fuel one step closer.” The overall message was clear, Molybdenum disulfide would allow for a cheaper yet effective rate of hydrogen production. My interest for the topic originates from a research paper I wrote during my time at Columbia’s Girls in STEM Initiative. Living within Miami has exposed me to the greatest issues associated with urban planning today, transportation. Having experienced first-hand the effects of driving, I have embraced artificial intelligence as a possible solution. However, the reduction of congestion and accident rates won’t be enough as the environment will continue to degrade without a reduction in gas emissions. I began with simply analyzing the applications and limitations of hydrogen, yet Dr. Romano advised that I continue to learn more and sure enough I devoted more time and resources into expanding my knowledge and understanding on the subject. This drive developed into my Voltz-wagon project, an analysis on electrolysis and its effectiveness in producing hydrogen by testing a prototype. I was amazed to learn that my experiment had won the Yale Science and Engineering Association Science Fair Award and received recognition on Cornell’s Collabspace. Learning of new breakthroughs within the industry led to my second research paper on hydrogen energy during my time in MOSTEC (MIT ONLINE SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND ENGINEERING COMMUNITY). After devoting such great time and effort, I feel obligated to assist in the struggle to work towards making hydrogen our new reliable energy source.