For high-tech start up General Hydrogen we designed a wide range of hydrogen fueling systems including this state-of-the-art vehicle refueler with automated touchscreen controls. At the time no fueling systems existed for consumer use so our design options were completely unlimited except for the restrictions of working with hydrogen itself. Our goal was to give hydrogen a human face so the dispenser was designed to have a friendly anthropomorphic shape. Later generations of this dispenser went on to become an industry standard across America.
This is the computer model we developed for the first dispenser. It doesn’t yet have the “legs” that would appear in the final product, but it is very close. We understand that our clients often find it hard to visualize a product before it is made so we do extensive computer visualization to ensure everything is well understood.
Developing a new product doesn’t always follow a straight path. Sometimes we’re working in a completely new area where consumer safety regulations don’t exist so we have to work backwards from what people might need in order to get figure out how to influence the regulations as they develop. Here we looked at separating off the user interface from the fueling controls to make a friendlier and safer fueling experience. Eventually this strategy became a design standard in the industry.
This is our design for a prototypical hydrogen fueling station for the largest and safest hydrogen supplier in the world. The wings of the roof sweep up to allow hydrogen that escapes in the fueling process to dissipate harmlessly into the atmosphere. A later version of this design, along with our prototypical refueling system, has become a standard station design and has been built many times across North America.
Hydrogen behaves differently than gasoline so hydrogen stations could be very different than the typical gas stations. This image shows an automated station where the hydrogen is stored in the wing-like roof and is dispensed automatically through connections in the wheel stop in front of the vehicles.
An early visualization of a complete hydrogen station occupying less than two parking spaces at a convenience store. The tall element is a “microstation” that holds hydrogen and controls the fueling process. The element on the ground is a wheelstop fuel dispenser that allows hydrogen to flow from the microstation to the vehicle. And on board the vehicle (here General Motors’ concept fuel cell chassis called “Autonomy”) is an arm that automatically connects with the wheelstop to take on fuel. We were involved in the patenting of each of these devices.
This is a visualization of some of the key components of the microstation. The General Motors chassis is a real object that has been photographed, and the wheelstop and connecting arm on board the vehicle has been computer generated.
A suite of fully functional fuel cell prototypes based on our industrial design and packaging strategies. The suite includes three classes of power systems for forklift trucks, a fuel storage “cube” for vehicle demonstrations, and a later generation hydrogen dispenser. One of our goals was to use consistent industrial design to convey product maturity in an industry where rough prototypes were the norm.
After working with General Hydrogen we helped found another company, Infintium Fuel Cell Systems, to develop products for the motive power market. This is a visualization of the industrial design strategy for fifth-generation fuel cell power systems for three classes of forklift truck. Multiple demonstration prototypes have been built from these designs.