A Prototype System for Chemical Hydrogen Generation and Storage for Operating ITS Devices


Steven Sternberg, A. Rashid Hasan, Venkatram Mereddy

April 2013

Report no. CTS 13-11

This research project sought to develop a prototype hydrogen-based fuel cell system for ITS devices. The project investigated hydrogen storage capacities of the various candidate chemical hydride analogs; selected the most efficient of the candidates for energy storage based on volume, mass, and cost; developed a prototype system; and estimated the capital and operating cost for such a system.

A hydrogen fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, providing a clean, high- efficiency energy source that circumvents the problems associated with conventional batteries. A major drawback that limits its utility, however, is the use of heavy and bulky compressed metal cylinders as the source of hydrogen. The chemical-based hydrogen generation used in this project can provide a compact, atmospheric-pressure storage option for the controlled release of hydrogen. Many ITS-based applications can be envisaged with hydrogen-based fuel cells, such as alternating-traffic signs, directional signals, speed-limit signs, blinkers in series, warning blinkers, and backup power sources at traffic signals during power outages. This system is particularly attractive because many remote traffic signals on northern Minnesota roads lack access to a power grid, requiring the use of batteries that must be changed often, thus incurring maintenance costs.

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Sponsored by:

ITS Institute (RITA)