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Our Team


Hello! We are the WSU H2-Refuel Hydrogen Source Team.
Top Row (From left to right): Ryan Brown, Ryan Whitehead, Paul Flerchinger, Zachary Gilvey  Ryan Whitehead, Derek Johnson
Bottom Row: Avery Scott, Bailee DePhelps, Ashley Vu, Daniel Barnes, Ryan Fish, David Lopez-Nava
Our team consists of Junior’s and Senior’s in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Washington State University.

Similar to James Bond, a hydrogen bond is just as difficult to break.

If you want to be a part of the next generation of fueling, the Hydrogen Source group and the WSU H2Refuel Team can help you get there.


Our Goal

Hydrogen is one of the great elements that has the potential to change the transportation as we know it today. To implement this underutilized element, we are using water, methane, and electricity (as specified in the H2Refuel rules) to produce gaseous hydrogen as our product for fueling the future. To do this, we need to create a system that separates hydrogen from water or methane OR utilizes syngas. The two most promising methods currently available include steam methane reforming and electrolysis. Our subsystem is vital because we provide the gaseous hydrogen, which will be utilized by all of the other groups to be purified, liquefied, and pressurized to be dispensed into a car. Thus, if our process doesn’t work, the whole system is unable to produce a working product.


Methane, water, and electricity are the only inputs to the system and the output will yield 99.99% pure gaseous hydrogen and potentially waste gases from methane. In addition, this subsystem should be capable of generating power for some of the other processes and outputting as high of a pressure as possible.



Electrolysis of water was revolutionized in the 1800s. In 1902, industrial water electrolysis units were being used and by 1939, the first large plant was utilized. The first pressurized industrial electrolyser was manufactured in 1948. The first solid polymer electrolyte system was built in 1966. The first solid oxide water electrolysis unit was built in 1972. Developed by DuPont and other manufacturers, water electrolysis now utilizes proton exchange membranes that are now usable for water electrolysis units and fuel cells. More info here.

  • Electricity flows through a positive and negative electrode
  • The hydrogen and oxygen ions in the water flow to the oppositely charged electrode where hydrogen and oxygen bubbles float to the surface


ELectrolysis use

Fig 1) Electrolysis Process: How it Works

Steam Methane Reformer:

Steam Methane Reforming is a common industrial process, used in the production of ammonia as well as hydrogen gas. As such, it has been extensively researched, particularly in the large scale applications that occur in chemical factories. The performance of steam methane reforming systems at smaller, modular scales is a more recent topic of interest. The reforming process utilizes high temperatures over catalysts, often nickel alloys, to react methane and steam. The product of the reforming is syngas, a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and dioxide, and some residual methane. This syngas is then further treated in a secondary shift reaction with more steam, which converts the remaining carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide and more hydrogen. This process has a high theoretical efficiency, on the order of 90%. However, this efficiency is not attainable at small scales, where typical efficiencies are between 60 and 80%, assuming that waste heat is reclaimed effectively. It has the potential to be an inexpensive alternative for the production of hydrogen in our fueling station. A diagram of the basic process flow is below. More info here.

SMR use

Fig 2) Steam Methane Reforming Process: How it Works

  • SMR uses High Temperatures and catalysts to force two chemical reactions:
    • CH4+2H2O => CO2+4H2
    • CH4+H2O => CO+3H2
  • A second phase at lower temperatures converts the CO into CO2
    • CO+H2O => CO2+H2
  • The carbon dioxide can be separated out using pressure swing adsorption, typically leaving very pure hydrogen.
  • The inputs, methane and water, are usable as is.
  • Fairly low energy consumption and operating cost.

Design Specification

We can objectively rank our different design alternatives by using a system known as the House of Quality. It is similar to the chart below, except the engineering characteristics are weighted according to their importance.

A House of Quality ranks the relationship between system requirements and design alternatives. As we have researched and developed our system these relationships helped us optimize our design. The vertical axis consists of system requirements and measurable qualities that are most relevant to our design. The horizontal axis displays design alternatives. From this chart we are able to compare how each design alternative relates to the system requirement. This allows us to generate an objective “score” for each design concept, which aids in the selection process.

Our team encountered several problems while using the HOQ to determine our design. For instance, we had identified our most important factors to be the amount of space our design would take, cost, and the hydrogen output amount. We found several options that were available, but all had their pros and cons that needed to be considered. For instance, an SMR machine would produce the ideal hydrogen output, but took up far too much space in the container. The HOQ proved to us that our two best options were a self built SMR system or electrolysis. Finally, after further research on commercially available electrolysis machines, our HOQ showed that electrolysis would be our best option given our requirements. 

To view our full HOQ, click here

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 10.56.14 AM

Fig 3) Sources of Hydrogen Production House of Quality

Design Alternatives

Option One:

Electrolysis: Proton H6

  • Output Amount: 12.94 kg/day
  • Output Pressure: 218 psig
  • Output Purity: 99.9998%
  • Power Draw: 6 kWhr/m^3
  • Connectors: 3/8″ Stainless Steel Compression Tube Outlet
  • 1/2″ Stainless Steel Water In
  • 1/2″ drain brass
  • Volume: 179.29 ft^3
  • Weight: 1700 lbs

Additional H6 Info here

Fig 4) H6 Proton Electrolyzer

Option Two:

Electrolysis: Proton C30

  • Output Amount: 65 kg/day
  • Output Pressure: 435 psig
  • Output Purity: 99.9998%
  • Power Draw: 134.38 kW
  • Connectors: 3/8″ Stainless Steel Compression Tube Outlet
  • 1/2″ Stainless Steel Water In
  • 1/2″ drain brass
  • Volume: 179.29 ft^3
  • Weight 1700 lbs

Additional C30 Info here


Fig 5) C30 Electrolyzer

Option Three:

Electrolysis: HySTAT60

  • 24 to 60Nm3/h (52 to 130 kg/24hr)
  • 99,998% (99,999% as option)
  • Process: 3.22m x 1.81m x 2.53m
    Control Cabinet: 1.0m x 0.5m x 2m
    Power Rack (2X): 0.9m x0.9m x 2.3m
  • 4.9 kWh/Nm3 at full load

Additional HySTAT60 info here


Fig 6) HySTAT60 Electrolyzer

Our Recommendation

After much research and the use of our House of Quality, we have determined that the Proton H6 will be our choice in hydrogen separation. 

Electrolysis: Proton H6

  • Output Amount: 12.94 kg/day
  • Output Pressure: 218 psig
  • Output Purity: 99.9998%
  • Power Draw: 6 kWhr/m^3
  • Connectors: 3/8″ Stainless Steel Compression Tube Outlet
  • 1/2″ Stainless Steel Water In
  • 1/2″ drain brass
  • Volume: 179.29 ft^3
  • Weight: 1700 lbs


Initial and compounding cost estimates

  1. The estimated cost for our subsystem will be around $90,000.
  2. Maintenance for the system will cost of $4,400 annually.
  3. Annual Operating Cost is $6,858
  4. The total amount of money that needs to be set aside now to cover these costs for the next ten years at a 6% interest rate is  $4212.40 – $8424.80
  5. Estimated cost of payoff time is around $161,176
  6. Money Set aside for 10 years is around $168,035

Depreciation and Book Value for 10 Years

H6 Hydrogen Generator

Cost: $214,847.00

Depreciation: $200,881.95

Book Value: $123,153.53

What’s Next

  • Compile all avenues for purchasing product
  • We will continue to update you with new leaps in research and production
Washington State University