Ross School - Senior Project 2006-07

Student: Ben Whelan

Mentor: Thomas Liao

Domain: Wellness


Title: Hydrogen: Possible Future for the Automotive Industry


For my project, I wrote a Technology Assessment on the future possibility of hydrogen fuel in the future of automobiles. In addition, I built a miniature car that is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell as a demonstration for a larger scale version. I learned about the technology that is used to run a car off of hydrogen fuel. I also determined whether or not hydrogen fuel is a good future source of energy for cars.


I used a model kit car as a way to demonstrate that hydrogen fuel cells do work, and they are fairly efficient comparatively to gasoline internal-combustion engine.

Final Paper


When I started my senior project, my love of cars helped me decide that I wanted to do my project on some way to improve the modern, contemporary car. At first, I had wanted to take a car, and do what I could to it to improve it in any way I could think of, but I realized that that would take much too much time and money, so I decided that I would study one technology which could greatly change the face of the whole automobile industry. With this in mind, I decided that I would study alternative automotive fuels, but this subject was way too broad and another student in the class was already doing a project on biodiesel.

With my project, I had a lot of problems. One of the main, hardest problems to deal with for myself was managing my time well and keeping up with everything that I had to do. I spent a little bit too much time messing around and not working, but if I had gotten my act together and done my work, I would have had much fewer problems. Another problem that I had to deal with was the credibility of my sources. I used all web sources, and a problem with web sources is that a website article can be written by anyone, so I stuck to government and university websites rather than trying to get information from something like a personal essay, because it could possibly have been biased in one way.

During my research, I found out many advantages and disadvantages to the use of hydrogen fuel in the automobile. Some of the main advantages of the use of hydrogen fuel are the increase in fuel economy, reduction of emissions, and safety involving fuel leaks because hydrogen dissipates so quickly. Some of the biggest disadvantages of hydrogen fuel are the problems of storing the fuel, and an infrastructure that will not easily allow for a hydrogen-based economy. There are some ways to store hydrogen, but some of them are very inefficient and very inflexible in design, which means a tank would be very large and awkward to put in a car that is designed to be sleek and streamlined.

There already are many technologies that use hydrogen as a source of power in the automobile. Ranging from hydrogen hybrid kits to full-on hydrogen vehicles, these cars are a very viable and possible future in the automotive industry as long as the problems of storage are solved as well as the infrastructure allowing for hydrogen fueling stations.

I plan to go to school for automotive engineering, and if I get the chance, I’ll definitely explore the possibilities with hydrogen in further detail, because I personally think that there is a very good chance of a future with hydrogen. I plan on looking into a career of product design in the future; I’ll possibly be looking into creating products for the car that make the car more powerful, faster, and more fuel-efficient.

Works Cited

“Aquygen Gas: Hybrid Hydrogen Car”. Aquygen Technology Applications Inc. 2006. Viewed 02 Jan. 2007. <>.

“Fuel Storage”. Princeton University. 2006. Viewed 13 Dec. 2006.   <>.

“Harnessing Hydrogen”. Idaho National Laboratory. 2006. Viewed 15 Dec. 2006. <>.

“Honda FCX Concept on Display at North American International Auto Show”. Honda Worldwide. 2007. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007. <

“Hydrogen Cars by 2012 says DaimlerChrysler”. The Register. 2007. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007.  <>.

“Hydrogen”. Stanford University. 1999. Viewed 15 Dec. 2006 <>.

“Reinventing the Automobile with Fuel Cell Technology”. General Motors. 2007. Viewed 02 Jan. 2007. <

U.S. Department of Energy. 2007. Viewed 02 Jan. 2007. <>.

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