Abstract

Residential use of hydrogen (H2), for utility or personal transportation, is currently limited by economic effectiveness, lack of residential sources, and need for engineering improvements. A modular photovoltaic hydrogen production prototype (PHPP) was constructed to produce three liters of hydrogen per day at standard temperature and pressure with maximum energy and Faraday efficiencies of 75% and 89%, respectively. Producing 3 liters of H2 with the PHPP required 2.4 milliliters of distilled H2O and 26 kJ of solar energy and eliminated 1.5 liters of byproduct CO2 relative to steam reforming of methane to generate H2. A capital investment of $5,651 to produce 30 liters per day using additional PHPP modules gave a return on investment of 4.2% and a payback period of 7.5 years. Interdisciplinary teams of university and high school students constructed the PHPP and were familiarized with key aspects of sustainable use of hydrogen as an energy carrier. Language and geographical barriers to effective communication and teamwork among the students were met by organizing teams to meet student needs, providing instruction and hands-on training in teamwork and facilitating web-based and in-class interactions. Quantitative ethnographic observation of student interactions showed involving students in lectures and extracurricular presentations and enhancing communication and teamwork with constructive responses to student feedback increased student satisfaction with the experience.

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