University of Waterloo

UWaterloo students won top prize for designing wind- and solar-generated hydrogen­ power to supply 10 percent of a community’s daily peak energy needs. Photo Credit: University of Waterloo

A team of University of Waterloo students took home the grand prize at the Hydrogen Education Foundation’s 2016 Hydrogen Student Design Contest. Teams from around the globe competed to design the best hydrogen-powered micro-grid with the capability of solely supporting a community or network of facilities on hydrogen for two days, as well as the ability to handle at least 10 percent of peak demand while the macro-grid is connected.

The UWaterloo team was comprised of chemical engineering students Ushinik Mukherjee, Mohammed Barbouti, Nidhi Juthani, Jonathan Ranisau, Aaron Trainor and School of Planning student Hadi El-shayeb. “Each of us has varying interests in the energy sector from academic classes, co-op work terms and individual research,” says Ranisau. “This competition seemed like the best way to manifest our passion for energy and innovation.”

Since 2004, the Hydrogen Student Design Contest has challenged university students to apply their creativity and academic skills to problem solving in the hydrogen and fuel cell industries. The competition took place in Washington, DC and featured teams from the United States, Canada and six other nations. 

“Student competitions allow students to work in multidisciplinary teams under real-world deadlines and constraints,” says professor Michael Fowler, who co-mentored the students with professor Azadeh Maroufmashat, both from UWaterloo’s chemical engineering program. “The teamwork development is a valuable learning outcome of participation in these competitions and a key feature of the engineering education at UWaterloo.”
The UWaterloo design uses wind and solar generated hydrogen power to supply 10 percent of the daily energy demand at peak times to a network of industrial and residential facilities. The full design, and other UWaterloo competition winners, can be found at the competition website,