Learning Platforms For Renewable Energy Awareness: Hydrogen Powered Vehicles
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Engineering
Burgeoning interest in the adoption of sustainable development places significant challenges on engineering teaching institutions as it falls within their sphere of responsibility to expose students to enabling technologies. From a societal perspective, introducing renewable energy into daily practice, such as through hydrogen fuelled transport, requires significant expansion in public infrastructure. To ensure wide acceptance, there is a need to promote awareness at different levels within the engineering and general community to the merits and intricacies of such technology. In this context, engineering education is strategically positioned to contribute through the pivotal role it occupies in providing the necessary skills for tomorrow's engineers. The open learning environment fostered at universities also constitutes an excellent learning platform for community and industry to gain (hands on) exposure to such applications. To address these challenges and fulfil their primary function of higher education, engineering schools must not only provide 'traditional' (core) engineering curricula but also include coverage of sustainable design and renewable energy applications. Such activities however, come at a cost, both in terms of infrastructure and time demands. This paper describes work at the University of Tasmania where both undergraduate and research higher degree students participate in industry based Research and Development (R&D) work on hydrogen vehicles. In addition to the student learning experience, prototype development also provides a valuable opportunity for staff to consolidate their skills in this important (emerging) field of engineering. The paper focuses on the conversion of a (prototype) standard petrol-powered, Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) 'Quad' bike to run on 100% hydrogen. Coverage includes the project background, some of the design and engineering challenges involved and how the research contributed to a significant learning experience for those involved.