Hydrogen Economy Case Study

Length: 5 weeks (Lecture, independent study and final presentations)

Level: Year 2 Materials and Engineering Science

Key Skills: Group learning, communication, independent study

Assessment: Group report and presentation and peer assessment

This is a group-based case study that looks at the hydrogen economy. Groups are pre-selected and given a topic to investigate, research and hopefully come up with some recommendations! 


This is a group-based case study that looks at the hydrogen economy. Groups are pre-selected and given a topic to investigate, research and hopefully come up with some recommendations!

Case study titles are as follows,

1. Photovoltaic (PV) materials in the Hydrogen Economy

The aim of this case study is to investigate and develop a particular aspect of the Hydrogen Economy, especially in relation to its impact on Sustainable development.

You are members of a materials consultancy firm (see below) who have been asked by BUMS (Birmingham United Materials and Services) to assess what the company’s response to a possible Hydrogen Economy should be. The board would like to know the affect of a Hydrogen Economy on the company’s current products, as well as what new products and processes may need to be invested in. Your particular remit is to advise the board on the materials needed in the manufacture of solar cells, which may ultimately be used in the production of hydrogen from a renewable energy source.

At the end of the case study you should be able to advise the board on the following issues:

  • Should the idea of a Hydrogen Economy be taken seriously? Discuss advantages and possible disadvantages.
  • What solar cell materials are likely to be used in the future? What manufacturing processes may the company need to invest in.
  • How will an investment in PV materials affect the company’s drive to sustainable development?

2. Hydrogen storage materials in the Hydrogen Economy

The aim of this case study is to investigate and develop a particular aspect of the Hydrogen Economy, especially in relation to it’s impact on sustainable development.

You are members of a materials consultancy firm (see below) who have been asked by BUMS (Birmingham United Materials and Services), to assess what the company’s response to a possible Hydrogen Economy should be. The board would like to know the affect of a Hydrogen Economy on the company’s current products, as well as what new products and processes may need to be invested in.

Your particular remit is to advise the board on the materials needed for hydrogen storage, either as a liquid, gas or in a solid store. At the end of the case study you should be able to advise the board on the following issues:

  • Should the idea of a Hydrogen Economy be taken seriously? Discuss advantages and possible disadvantages.
  • What materials are likely to be used for hydrogen storage in the future? What materials manufacturing processes may the company need to invest in?
  • How will an investment in hydrogen storage materials affect the company’s drive to sustainable development?

3. Fuel cell materials in the Hydrogen Economy

The aim of this case study is to investigate and develop a particular aspect of the Hydrogen Economy, especially in relation to its impact on Sustainable Development.

You are members of a materials consultancy firm (see below) who have been asked by BUMS (Birmingham United Materials and Services), to assess what the company’s response to a possible Hydrogen Economy should be. The board would like to know the affect of a Hydrogen Economy on the company’s current products, as well as what new products and processes may need to be invested in. Your particular remit is to advise the board on the materials needed for fuel cells in the hydrogen economy. At the end of the case study you should be able to advise the board on the following issues:

  • Should the idea of a Hydrogen Economy be taken seriously? Discuss advantages and possible disadvantages.
  • What materials are likely to be used in fuel cells in the future? What materials manufacturing processes may the company need to invest in?
  • How will an investment in fuel cell materials affect the company’s drive to sustainable development?

Company Profile

Birmingham United Materials and Services (BUMS)

The company was founded 150 years ago and initially produced products for the traditional metallurgical industries such as steel and copper. The company is forward looking and is especially aware of the importance of the company’s products to a Sustainable future. For example its annual report covers all aspects of sustainable development.

The company has vast materials expertise and has supplied products to many industries. Its main products at the moment include:

  • Carbon brushes for electric motors
  • Zirconia refractory materials
  • Electricity cables for the grid
  • Catalytic converters for automotive applications
  • Silicon based semiconductor materials

Rules

There must me a meeting of the group in the timetabled slots for this case study. Brief minutes should be taken indicating members present, progress made and future action. These should be submitted along with the group report and will form part of the assessment of the case study. Penalties will be incurred for non-attendance. The location of the meeting can be anywhere the group chooses apart from the 2nd meeting, when the group must make a 5 minute presentation in SG07c on progress made and future actions. Again this presentation will form part of the assessment. Other meetings can of course be arranged if necessary. The group are free to use any other communication methods such as email.

Report

The report should be around 4000 words in length.

The report should include the following 3 facets:

(i) A summary of the groups conclusions on the Hydrogen Economy. What evidence is there for the need for a Hydrogen Economy. How might it affect the company’s current and future products.

(ii) An analysis of the materials and processes likely to be needed for the groups particular task.

(iii) An assessment of parts (i) and (ii) in terms of the company’s drive towards sustainable development.

For tips on report writing, click here.

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Presentation

The presentation should provide a summary of the major conclusions reached in the report. The length will be 25mins + questions. It is up to the group to decide on the format of the presentation eg by 1, or more than 1 group member. For tips on giving effective presentations click here.

Assessment

Overall marks will be given for the report (60%), and presentation (40%). Assessment of the meetings will be included in the group report mark. There will also be a component of peer assessment. Peer assessment forms will be handed out after the group presentations and should be completed & stamped by the undergraduate office.