22 Oct 2018

Producing Hydrogen Fuel for Fuel Cell Vehicles: Thermochemical Considerations: A General Chemistry Flipped Classroom Module

In-Class Activity

Submitted by Jack F Eichler, University of California, Riverside
Course Level: 
Topics Covered: 

This is a flipped classroom activity that is intended for use in a college-level first semester/first quarter general chemistry course, and aims to provide a real-world context for thermochemistry concepts by focusing on the problem of producing hydrogen fuel in a sustainable manner. Current industrial production of hydrogen relies on extracting hydrogen from hydrocarbon molecules. Producing hydrogen in this manner brings about the obvious problem of relying of fossil fuels for a “sustainable” fuel. In this activity students will become familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of using water as a source for hydrogen, learn how steam reforming of ethanol is being used as a hydrogen source, and will use enthalpy calculations to compare the thermochemical properties of these different reactions.

Acknowledgement: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1504989. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.



Learning Goals: 

a) using standard heats of formation to calculate the enthalpy for reactions;

b) comparing the enthalpies of different reactions and evaluating which reactions are more spontaneous from a thermochemical standpoint;

c) evaluate different reactions used to produce hydrogen fuel for use in fuel cell vehicles based on the enthalpy of the reactions;

d) gaining appreciation for research that aims to develop methods of producing sustainable fuel sources and why researchers and/or policy makers would be interested in developing sustainable fuel sources.

Equipment needs: 

Suggested technology:

1) online test/quiz function in course management system

2) in-class response system (clickers)

Implementation Notes: 

See attached instructor notes. 

Time Required: 
50-80 minutes
Evaluation Methods: 
1) Performance on the pre-lecture online quiz

2) Performance on the in-class activity (clicker scores or hand-graded worksheet)



Evaluation Results: 
Students generally score on average 70% or higher on the pre-lecture quiz, and on average 70% or more of students correctly answer the in-class clicker questions. 


Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence

The VIPEr community supports respectful and voluntary sharing. Click here for a description of our default Creative Commons license.