There’s an old saying — “A week’s worth of time spent in the library can save a year’s worth of time in the laboratory.”

Of course today the time is usually spent on-line with Google instead of the library. Enter the quantity vs. quality debate. Do you want 5 highly relevant sources to your project with the chance that you miss an important one? Or 5 million potentially relevant sources to your project that you have to sift through to find the golden nuggets? The answer is probably the first which means you need to talk to a librarian.

Contrary to popular belief, librarians are not out of style, only the antiquated stereotypes of them are. The amount of scientific information the world is generating is increasing at an exponential pace. Even with the new abilities to search this information for yourself, the learning curves are steep, and the expectations to have rigorously evaluated background literature are stringent. Suffice it to say, there has never been a more important time in history to have very, very good librarians on your side.

I hope you learned the importance of assessing the relevance and credibility of an information source from your engineering librarian, Chelsea Leachman. Chelsea is familiar with this particular project and has placed relevant engineering standards on reserve in the library to assist you. Your Design Information Audit worksheet was a great start to sorting the relevant information for your project. In addition to having this completed and updated regularly in your Slack sub-assembly, you should consider double checking to make sure you have identified the following:

  1. Relevant design standards pertaining to your sub-assembly. For example SAE J2601 mandates hydrogen fueling rates to prevent bursting of fuel tanks. Is there a standard for designing hydrogen-safe shipping containers? What about fuel-system user interfaces? Hydrogen safe compressors?
  2. Relevant peer-reviewed journal publications. The majority of hydrogen research in liquefaction systems was conducted in the 1960’s-early 1980’s. There likely is no standard for designing liquid hydrogen purification, heat exchange, vortex tubes, and other systems but there are journal publications that discuss these topics. You’ll often learn what not to do by reading these.
  3. Doctoral and Master’s theses and Dissertations. These are excellent sources to begin a major design project with because they include extensive literature reviews and explanations/justifications of why certain approaches should be considered that are often removed from regular journal publications in the interest of space.
  4. General websites. Just like this site, they can be created by anyone, anywhere, and are not necessarily peer reviewed for credibility.

I have saved considerable information over the years on cryogenic hydrogen and will share some of these with you after you’ve first looked for yourself. It’s essential that I not bias your initial searches as it limits the classes ability to find something new that could solve some of our current problems.