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

The 2017 Hydrogen Student Design 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.

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

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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 near-zero or 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, power-to-gas (P2G) can address a number of these issues, and deserves to be evaluated closely. Power-to-gas systems use excess renewable power to produce hydrogen from water through electrolysis. The hydrogen can then be transported through the natural gas grid via direct blending or further conversion to methane from waste carbon streams. The hydrogen could also be transported by other means, such as trucks, or used directly at the point of production. The stored chemical energy can then be used to generate electricity via a fuel cell or other generation device, as a transportation fuel, for space and water heating in residential and commercial building, to provide heat for industrial processes, and any other purpose for which hydrogen or methane is currently used.

Unlike batteries that will require massive capital investments and can only provide storage for a few hours, P2G has the potential to leverage the installed natural gas pipeline system to provide energy storage for days, weeks, or months, shifting energy from season to season as needed. As the world transitions more toward renewable power sources like wind and solar, the ability to store large amounts of excess power for extended time periods will be critical to supporting a renewable power grid.

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 a hydrogen 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.


2017-2018 Sponsors

Title Sponsor

Southern California Gas Company Logo

Supporting Sponsors

Air Liquide Logo

Hydrogenics Logo


Supporting Organizations


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