Hydrogen Student Design Contest Focuses on Designing a Power-to-Gas System

The theme of the 2017-2018 Hydrogen Student Design Contest is “Designing a Power-to-Gas System.”

The Contest will challenge student teams from around the world to develop a design for a system that uses electricity to produce hydrogen for cross market uses, including energy storage, ancillary services, and transportation fuel. The teams will choose a site in their area, engage their local electric and gas utility, coordinate with regulatory bodies and safety experts, and create educational materials, including a short video.


In a global effort to reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels, which are causing anthropogenic climate change, many countries around the globe have committed to renewable energy and zero emission technologies. This is causing a transition of the energy sector from centralized to a more decentralized form of production, leading to significant challenges along the way. The challenges on the electricity side include overproduction of renewable energy during peak times, resulting in curtailment and loss of resources, strains on the transmission grid during times of high production, intermittency issues with the need for energy storage or reserve generation, etc. Furthermore, many stakeholders in the transportation sector are preparing for adoption of zero-emission transportation solutions, not only for passenger vehicles, but also the entire goods movement sector, to reduce or eliminate local health hazards from criteria pollutants like particulate matter, SOx and NOx. Finally, governments are also creating global ozone and greenhouse gas reduction goals.

While there is no solution that can address all of these challenges, some technologies are able to address a whole suite of these issues, and deserve to be evaluated closely.

About the Contest

Since 2004, the HEF Hydrogen Student Design Contest has challenged multi-disciplinary teams of university students to apply their creativity and academic skills in the areas of design, engineering, economics, environmental science, business and marketing to the hydrogen and fuel cell industries.

Although the Contest designs are concepts when submitted, the Grand Prize winning teams from 2004 and 2005 each attracted the funding necessary for actual development and implementation of a new hydrogen fueling station and power park, respectively. The station designed in 2004 had its grand opening at Humboldt State University on September 9, 2008.  The winning design in 2008, which included a back-up and portable power system powered by hydrogen for airports, has generated a great deal of attention at the Columbia International Airport in Columbia, South Carolina.

The Contest is open to undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. students worldwide. Multiple teams from one institution are permitted, but students may not belong to more than one team, and teams must work independently.