Hydrogen fuel cell car goes 48.5 meters

Parts from the hydrogen fuel-cell cars, including the fuel cell and syringes – Pierce Laveran ’24

In the last weeks of the 2022-2023 school year, students noticed length markers in Wilson Hall’s first-floor hallways. 

Fourth Form Chemistry students participated in the annual fuel cell car project, where students use a hydrogen fuel cell to power a homemade car. The car that drives the furthest distance wins.

The length from the starting line to the doors of Severinghaus Library is 50 meters. This year, Fourth Formers Colin Campbell-Williams, Kai Degenhardt, and Ben McDade built the farthest-traveling car. 

“Our car…went 48.5 meters,” McDade said. 

The construction of each group’s car was a long process of designing, prototyping, and refining until reaching a final design. 

“The main thing we were thinking about was the wheels,” Degenhardt said. “We wanted something big. We were originally thinking CD’s, but they were too thin, and we thought they would just not work too well. So eventually we decided on the bottoms of Gatorade bottles.”

Campbell-Williams, Degenhardt, and McDade focused on recycled materials. 

“After ASB, there’s a lot of Gatorade bottles in the trash, so basically I went around and gathered five Gatorade bottles from out of the recycling bin and the trash, and we made our car,” Campbell-Williams said.

Finally, this project was one that required students to work well collaboratively. The groups that had the best teamwork often performed the best. 

McDade said, “I think we worked really well as a team. We listened to each other’s ideas, and split up work.” 

The Fuel Cell Car project necessitates patience, tenacity, and teamwork. These skills are key to not only the success in group projects, but also for success in the future, whether in engineering or in another field.