Standalone “Green” Community-Center Buildings: Hydrogen Generation/Storage/Delivery System for when Primary Energy Storage is at Capacity

EPA Grant Number: SU833529
Title: Standalone “Green” Community-Center Buildings: Hydrogen Generation/Storage/Delivery System for when Primary Energy Storage is at Capacity
Investigators: McBride, Troy , Ayres, Bill , Fullerton, Jean , Watson, Heather
Current Investigators: McBride, Troy , Ayres, Bill , Chong, Gabriel , Fullerton, Jean , Iezzi, Timothy , Lappin, Dan , Pagut, Thomas , Peropat, Jeremiah , Robinson, Phil , Watson, Heather
Institution: Elizabethtown College
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2007 through May 31, 2008
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Challenge Area: EPA-G2007-P3-Z3 – Energy

The multi-disciplinary initiative “Standalone ‘Green’-power for (International) Village Settings” at Elizabethtown College has the primary goal of designing and providing highly-reliable, low-maintenance, long-lifetime (>30 years), low-environmental-impact community-center buildings powered entirely by a renewable energy source. The primary technical challenge related to sustainability in standalone wind or solar-powered buildings is the realization of a moderate-scale energy storage system with very long lifetime, high system efficiency, and reasonable cost. In this application, we seek to maximize energy storage and minimize waste by capturing power generation potential that is typically wasted in standalone installations.


At Elizabethtown College, we have constructed a 200 sq.ft. 2.2 kWpeak “solar cabin” that serves as a test platform for alternative energy storage systems. In this portion of the larger project, we will establish and study hydrogen electrolysis and storage as a secondary energy storage system. In particular, we will design, implement, and study a ‘smart’ electrolysis system which will be used to generate hydrogen when the primary energy storage system is full.

The Elizabethtown College initiative is addressing a major shortcoming of standalone alternative energy systems with particular application to installations in areas worldwide with poor or zero electrification. By the defining principles of sustainability, when installing power generation systems in developing areas, we must strive to install systems that are highly reliable, low maintenance, long lifetime (>30 years), and low environmental impact.

Expected Results:

In this project, we will design, construct, and monitor a hydrogen-fuel secondary energy storage system at the Elizabethtown College Solar Cabin. The computer controlled energy storage system will switch to hydrogen electrolysis whenever the primary energy storage system is full. The power generation / usage and hydrogen generation will be monitored at all times by computer and uploaded via wireless communications to a server computer and related public website. The recorded data will be used to analyze the efficiency, reliability, and expected costs / benefits to this approach.

This entire project will be student designed and built as part of our engineering department’s vertical design program where undergraduate students of all four years work together on semester-long design projects. As well, the Solar Cabin is set up as an educational resource to all Elizabethtown students, faculty, staff, and community members.

Supplemental Keywords:

innovative technology, renewable, engineering, monitoring, building systems, global power, sustainable environment, technology for sustainable environment, clean technologies, clean energy, ecological design, energy efficiency, photovoltaics, renewable resource,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report