Hydrogen Student Design Contest Join our Mailing List


The theme of the 2016 Hydrogen Student Design Contest is “Development of a Hydrogen Powered Micro-Grid to provide grid support during peak hours and full back-up power.”

The Contest will challenge undergraduate and graduate students to design a renewable hydrogen powered micro-grid capable of solely supporting a town or military base for approximately 2 days, and be able to handle at least 10% of peak demand while the macro-grid is active. The system should utilize local resources to produce and store hydrogen as well as provide hydrogen dispensing capabilities to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCEVs). The system should be optimized for as little environmental and economic impact as possible.

For detailed Rules & Guidelines, see the Contest Rules page >>

Please subscribe to our news list to receive HEF Contest announcements >>


Developing smart, decentralized energy networks that have the capabilities of islanding for a certain period of time as well as reducing overall grid strain during peak times has the potential to address a number of priorities and challenges some energy customers may be facing.

By creating a micro-grid, the system is no longer susceptible to centralized grid malfunctions and blackouts as the micro-grid will kick on once the macro-grid fails. Using on site renewable energy generation, the micro-grid will use fuel cell technology to supply a community, a military base, or any other comparable complex with the ability to produce enough electricity to supply its own needs for an extended period of time. Additionally, during peak hours the system can provide electricity to its own grid structure to reduce the demand placed on the macro-grid.

The system will most likely not need to be active for a two week stretch and so it becomes feasible for hydrogen fueling to occur as well. This is a complex task but will yield interesting and possibly actionable results.

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.

2016 Sponsors

Bronze Sponsor

Supporting Organizations


1211 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 650, Washington, DC 20036-2725 USA | 202.223.5547 ph | 202.223.5537 fax | info@HydrogenContest.org