Hydrogen fuel cell scooters for urban Asia

By Bruce Lin -- last updated July 2014

This a web page about fuel cell scooters, based on the Master's thesis I completed in late 1999 at Princeton University (Mechanical Engineering Department). In the thesis, I explored the possibility of replacing the two-stroke engines widely used in Asian scooters with hydrogen fuel cell engines. My advisor was Professor Robert Socolow and I worked with the former Center for Energy and Environmental Studies (now the Energy Group of the Princeton Environmental Institute).

After graduating from Princeton University, I joined fuel cell leader Ballard Power Systems, where I was a test engineer in the direct methanol fuel cell group. Later, I worked on improving fuel cell performance at freezing temperatures. Some of our work in the area was presented in a 2005 U.S. Department of Energy workshop: Fuel Cell Operations at Sub-Freezing Temperatures. After that I was Head of Stack Development and Head of System Development at CMR Fuel Cells, a small UK company developing compact direct methanol fuel cells for notebook computers.

I currently lead the system engineering team at EnerVault, a Silicon Valley company developing flow battery energy storage systems - a different sort of eleectrochemical cell, that could unlock the potential of solar and wind power by storing energy cheaply, reliably, and safely.

Summary of the thesis

Current two-stroke engines tend to be highly polluting, and many Asian governments are promoting electric vehicles powered by batteries. However, fuel cells would also produce negligible emissions at the tail pipe, and moreover would have the benefit of quicker refueling. This thesis studies that possiblity.

Major topics include: drive cycle modelling, fuel cell design, and hydrogen fuel storage. Other issues dealt with include cost estimation, energy efficiency, hydrogen distribution. Some of the technical assumptions have been made obsolete by the rapid pace of fuel cell technology development, and fuel cell design principles are much more widely available now than back in 1999, but the approach is still valid.

The project was begun in April 1998 and finished September 1999. Portions of this work were presented at the Grove Fuel Cell Symposium in London. The results also appeared in the proceedings of the conference: "Conceptual design and modeling of a fuel cell scooter for urban Asia",Journal of Power Sources 86 (2000) pp. 202-213.

The work has since gone on to be widely cited.

Download the thesis

Download the entire thesis here. (6.6MB PDF file; for the free Acrobat Reader, go here).

Or, download individual chapters:

Additional content

The URL for this page is http://www.brucelin.ca/scooters/index.html
Last updated July 2014
Contact the author at bruce@brucelin.ca