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MU Students Explore Use of Hydrogen As Alternative Fuel

Mizzou Hydrogen Car Team to compete in Eco-marathon

April 12th, 2011

Story Contact: MU News Bureau, 573-882-6211,

VIDEO: MU Students Explore Use of Hydrogen As Alternative Fuel from MU News Bureau on Vimeo.

By Brad Fischer

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Tension in the Middle East has helped raise gas prices to their highest levels since 2008, and oil experts predict that prices have yet to reach their peak. Sales of hybrid and electric vehicles have increased tremendously as drivers try to avoid the gas station. Now, MU students are poised to be on the forefront of innovation as they explore another alternative fuel – hydrogen.

“We focus on hydrogen as an alternative fuel because there is a lot we can learn, and we think it has potential for future use in commercial vehicles,” said Matthew Angeli, a mechanical engineering senior and member of the Mizzou Hydrogen Car Team. “Right now, there are several car companies testing hydrogen-powered vehicles. It is one of the most realistic alternative fuels.”

For the second consecutive year, the Mizzou Hydrogen Car Team plans to participate in the Shell Eco-marathon, April 14-17, in Houston. The event pits college and high school vehicles powered by alternative fuels, as well as gasoline, against each other in a six-mile race around downtown Houston. The winner is the team that finishes with the highest fuel efficiency. Last year, the MU team raced with an energy efficiency equivalent to more than 480 miles-per-gallon of gas.

More than 40 students from the University are on the team; business students manage the finances and engineers work on the car. Team members learn about the science behind the engine, manage the project and deal with unexpected challenges. Mechanical engineering junior and Mizzou Hydrogen Car Team head mechanic Robert Margherio said the project helps students prepare for real-world careers.

“We learn so much about every aspect of the car and how to manage such a large project,” Margherio said. “We have to understand and design more than just the engine, including the brakes, suspension, aerodynamic design and how they work together. We have to problem-solve on a daily basis to get the car to perform well.”

The Mizzou Hydrogen Car Team is sponsored by the College of Engineering. Donors give the team parts, money and discounts on part purchases.

Besides building the vehicle and competing in the Eco-marathon, the team advocates for alternative fuel vehicles at events around the state. This year, the team displayed and discussed the hydrogen car at the St. Louis Auto Show and the St. Louis Science Center.

For updates from the Mizzou Hydrogen Car Team as it travels to Houston and competes in the Shell Eco-marathon, visit and

Note: The Hydrogen Car team leaves April 13 for Houston. Interviews conducted after April 13 would need to be conducted via telephone.