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Clickable Fuel Cell Car

Peter Tyson, NovaScienceNow

In this interactive, students can investigate a typical hydrogen fuel cell prototype car from its fuel cell stacks to its ultracapacitor, a kind of supplementary power source.

The limited-production vehicle seen in this feature is a Honda 2005 FCX, which is typical of the kinds of hydrogen fuel cell cars that some major automakers are researching and developing.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Simulation/Interactive supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 4 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 11 Disciplinary Core Ideas

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Review the links on this website that enable students to gain a more thorough understanding of alternative energy innovation for cars.

About the Science

  • The interactive format explains the various components of the fuel cell prototype car.
  • A detailed explanation of how a hydrogen fuel cell works accompanies the interactive.
  • As this technology is continuously developing, check for up-to-date resources when teaching this topic.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    - This resource is scientifically solid and the information is current.
    - The response by Dr. Eric Miller to the posted questions is excellent. He also provided several web-based references that allow the students to explore further on the relevant topics.

    - Regarding the answer to the question on using a hydrogen combustion engine to run an alternator which can then be used to generate hydrogen through electrolysis, one important point was touched on but could have been expanded. Namely, when one converts fuels to energy, there is a loss in conversion efficiency. The electricity generated by burning hydrogen will not be sufficient to generate the same amount of hydrogen through subsequent electrolysis.
    - Regarding the question about using the hydrogen used in the gasoline refinery process to power fuel-cell vehicles directly, hydrogen is used to convert crude oil into refined fuels like gasoline, and is NOT a product of fuel refinery.

About the Pedagogy

  • There are a variety of useful links that teachers can use to build a unit on alternative fuels and cars.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Areas to click on are clearly identified. Some areas provide additional links to further information on the topic.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Simulation/Interactive supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 4

MS-ETS1.A1:The more precisely a design task’s criteria and constraints can be defined, the more likely it is that the designed solution will be successful. Specification of constraints includes consideration of scientific principles and other relevant knowledge that are likely to limit possible solutions.

MS-ETS1.B2:There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem.

MS-PS1.B3:Some chemical reactions release energy, others store energy.

MS-PS3.A2:A system of objects may also contain stored (potential) energy, depending on their relative positions.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 11

HS-ESS3.A1:Resource availability has guided the development of human society.

HS-ESS3.A2:All forms of energy production and other resource extraction have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical costs and risks as well as benefits. New technologies and social regulations can change the balance of these factors.

HS-ETS1.A2:Humanity faces major global challenges today, such as the need for supplies of clean water and food or for energy sources that minimize pollution, which can be addressed through engineering. These global challenges also may have manifestations in local communities

HS-ETS1.B1:When evaluating solutions, it is important to take into account a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, and to consider social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

HS-PS1.A4:A stable molecule has less energy than the same set of atoms separated; one must provide at least this energy in order to take the molecule apart.

HS-PS1.B1:Chemical processes, their rates, and whether or not energy is stored or released can be understood in terms of the collisions of molecules and the rearrangements of atoms into new molecules, with consequent changes in the sum of all bond energies in the set of molecules that are matched by changes in kinetic energy.

HS-PS3.A2:At the macroscopic scale, energy manifests itself in multiple ways, such as in motion, sound, light, and thermal energy.

HS-PS3.A5:“Electrical energy” may mean energy stored in a battery or energy transmitted by electric currents.

HS-PS3.B2:Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transported from one place to another and transferred between systems

HS-PS3.B4:The availability of energy limits what can occur in any system.

HS-PS3.D1:Although energy cannot be destroyed, it can be converted to less useful forms—for example, to thermal energy in the surrounding environment.

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