Faculty Advisor

Fofana, Mustapha S.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute has created a research team to investigate refining hydrogen fuel cell technologies. As a leader in engineering applications, WPI regards hydrogen fuel cells research as an integral part of our nation's future. To this end, we are continually seeking partners to further the use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel. The motivation of this team is to curb the economic, social, and environmental impacts of petroleum dependency. Due to foreign oil dependency, the entire US economic health is vulnerable to outside influences. Heating our homes has become one of our biggest expenses families must endure. Petroleum and petroleum byproducts have been polluting our oceans (as oil spills) and skies (as recombinant gases) for decades. These forces have necessitated the need for a clean and safe energy source. Our team is trying to create a broader awareness [of] fuel cell technology as well as refine present PEM fuel cells design. Having studied several possible fuel cells such as solid oxide, molten carbonate, direct methanol, we have determined that the PEM fuel cell offers the best solution. While not presently the most efficient in production of energy, it's portable, dependable and is the most efficient in utilization of its fuel source. Because of these attributes its potential [sic] for use in a wide variety of applications. This paper examines the most common energy sources today, both the pros and the cons. Various hydrogen fuel cell processes are then examined in detail as well as the niche each different process fills. A Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell is then fitted in a fictional yacht. We are able to show how the PEM fuel cell is able to meet all of the yacht's power requirements, enabling it to be free of shore power while at the same time becoming a valuable source of fresh water while at sea.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

January 2006

Project Type

Interactive Qualifying Project


Restricted-WPI community only

Advisor Department

Mechanical Engineering