Awesome Record Of The New Hydrogen-Fuel Vehicle Built By Students

Hydrogen-Fuel Vehicle Built By Students

The world’s most fuel-efficient vehicle has been designed and built by a set of engineering students at Duke University.

The new hydrogen-fuel vehicle built by students released recently online and shared by the Duke engineering team is another move meant to help tackle the current issue of gasoline fuel because it runs with hydrogen fuel.

According to the team, the super machine has been named Maxwell to reflect its working principle according to the name of the inventor of electromagnetic theory “Maxwell”.

Since it runs completely on hydrogen fuel with a very high ratio of consumption against miles, it has been rated as the most fuel-efficient vehicle on the surface of the earth.

Though not for commercial production purposes, its record in terms of fuel consumption states that the vehicle can cover 14,573 miles per gallon of its fuel.

That is about 100 kilometers per 0.01614 liters of its fuel. Such efficiency has raised eyes-brows from other scientists regarding how the engineers were able to achieve the record.

According to Duke Engineering and the Guinness World Records, the efficiency specified above is exactly what has been obtained from the practical application and testing of the vehicle.

The principle of electromagnetism has been found to dominate most of the component functionalities and using the most current technologies, the hydrogen-fuel vehicle built by students can be rated as one of the recent inventions that have the potential of changing the current technologies for better fuel efficiency and smooth operation.

Maxwell was able to cover an average speed of over 15mph (24km/hr.) during its testing period. Meanwhile, car designers may find the design of this vehicle to be fascinating based on its uniqueness from other road vehicles.

Shapes, size, and streamlining played their individual roles in the overall design. Some believed that such actually added to its unique speed and overall fuel efficiency.


Hydrogen-Fuel Vehicle Built By Students
Hydrogen-Fuel Vehicle Built By Students

It is a honeycomb design vehicle, structured with carbon-fiber monocoque that weighs a mere 24kg and is streamlined for speed and fuel efficiency. The design helped the vehicle to achieve a drag of 0.10 when compared to a Tesla Model S which has a drag coefficient of 0.24.

When it comes to power transmission, a 250 W brushless DC motor meant for an aircraft model having a single-speed chain-drive reduction gear has been used for its powertrain.

While a teensy board has been embedded with a controller base on the popular ARM series of 32-bit microcontrollers and all are an inclusion to its custom control circuitry.

Another special feature associated with Maxwell is the bank of supercapacitors installed for power-boosting.

The engineering team believes that using small-fuel cells with supercapacitors will eliminate the need for fuel-cell that can deliver huge bursts of power during acceleration since such power may have a negative impact on the powertrain.

Hence the capacitors ensure moderate and steady power output for higher power efficiency.

The ideology behind the above feature is based on the fact that cars with very high power output from the engine than they require tend to have powertrain problems frequently since the component may not be strong enough to withstand the quick power output from the engine during quick accelerations.

In other words, fuel cells like other batteries are high in energy density and give distance capacities to the cars. Therefore, the supercapacitors are used because they do not hold a lot of energy rather, they have a high power density which is the rate at which they can charge and discharge.

Its 100W proton exchange membrane fuel cell provides the power for its cruising speed which operates with less resistance due to the low level of the gravitational force of inertia and forward and backward air resistance.

In the process of its operation, the supercapacitors deliver extra power to the powertrain for acceleration when it is needed.

The record of the Hydrogen-Fuel Vehicle Built By Students in terms of fuel efficiency showed that it consumes one gram of hydrogen only to cover 8.5miles, which has been calculated to be one gallon of gasoline per 14,573 miles.

Such has become the most available feature in the world of technology that makes the vehicle rank high in terms of energy density and efficiency.

According to Dr. Tom Lombardo, the efficiency calculation has been done based on the following facts;

One gram of hydrogen contains around 130J of energy. A fuel cell is about 60 percent efficient and a good DC electric motor can achieve efficiencies of 90 percent or more.

In combination, that makes the fuel cell of the vehicle to be 54% efficient in the hydrogen fuel conversion into motion.

In addition, if a gram of hydrogen contains 130J of energy and the system is 54% efficient, then only 70J is used to move the car, the rest of the energy is dissipated as heat.

Therefore, if only 70J moves the vehicle 8.5 miles, it will take 8.24J of energy to travel one mile. That is the actual energy required to move the car one mile.


To know the equivalent miles per gallon of a regular car, the energy density of gasoline is about 45J per gram and if it takes 8.24J to travel one mile, then all other things being equal, 45J should move the car 5.4 miles. The above calculation was made by Dr. Tom during the report.

Though lots of concern have been shown towards the Hydrogen-Fuel Vehicle Built By Students, its inventors had made it known that it is not a production model rather, it is a prototype made through the laboratory experiments.

Philip Nduka

Philip is a graduate of Mechanical engineering and an NDT inspector with vast practical knowledge in other engineering fields, and software.

He loves to write and share information relating to engineering and technology fields, science and environmental issues, and Technical posts. His posts are based on personal ideas, researched knowledge, and discovery, from engineering, science & investment fields, etc.

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