Government of Canada

Government of Canada
University of Waterloo

University of Waterloo
U.S. Department of Energy

U.S. Department of Energy
General Motors Corporation

General Motors Corporation
Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne National Laboratory
Challenge X

Challenge X

August 24, 2007 10:30 ET

University of Waterloo Students Launch Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicle Into Final Year of International Competition

WATERLOO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 24, 2007) - The University of Waterloo is among 17 top North American universities entering the final year of the Challenge X competition. The University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) has spent the last two years rebuilding their Chevy Equinox, with the goal of delivering a "showroom" vehicle powered solely by hydrogen fuel cells. The team is now the first university in the world to successfully build a hydrogen-fuel cell vehicle, which provides the same driving characteristics as a normal automobile, but with the advantage of zero-emissions. Cutting-edge fuel cell technology, is poised to significantly reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

"Many people are unaware that there has been so much background work done on hydrogen fuel cells over the last decade," said James Goh, the team's Business Director. "The team can't wait to showcase the emerging technology to the public. Now, we are finally beginning to see the results of a technology that might revolutionize automobile transportation into a green and sustainable activity."

"The Challenge X Program is an exciting example of innovation at work, and Canada's New Government is proud to contribute $50,000 to year four of the competition. I commend the University of Waterloo for demonstrating how clean energy can be put to practical use," said Harold Albrecht, Member of Parliament (Kitchener-Conestoga), on behalf of the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources. "Our government encourages the innovative thinking of these bright students who participate in these competitions since this will also help put Canada at the forefront of automotive engineering by developing cleaner, more efficient vehicles that will have economic and environmental benefits for our country."

Each team in the Challenge X competition can integrate a variety of alternative fuels in their stock Chevy Equinox, including: Ethanol (E-85), Bio Diesel (B20), reformulated gasoline, or hydrogen. The University of Waterloo is the only team to select hydrogen as the primary source of vehicle propulsion.

"We see hydrogen as a long-term solution with the most potential to make a lasting impact," explained team leader, Charles Hua. "Unfortunately, it is also the most difficult technology to implement, as it requires the replacement of almost every part of the stock vehicle drive-train." The project wasn't without its share of problems, as the team faced set-backs including weight issues. "The team loves a challenge, and this project surely delivers," James says. "It only makes the reward that much better."

Challenge X shows that the cooperation of industry, government and academia is the best approach to developing more energy-efficient and "greener" automotive technologies, to improving our economy and our environment, and to keeping North American technology competitive on a global basis. The competition also helps develop the next generation of highly skilled engineers with a greater awareness of these technologies - preparing them to lead the automotive industry in the 21st century. UWAFT works closely with Natural Resources Canada, General Motors, and the U.S. Department of Energy among other sponsors, to achieve joint success in the competition.

UWAFT will join the other 16 universities in the final year of competition to race across North America in their alternative-fuels vehicle.

Headline Sponsors

U.S. Department of Energy
General Motors Corporation

Platinum Sponsors

Natural Resources Canada
The MathWorks
National Instruments
Freescale Semiconductor
AVL North America, Inc.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Department of Transportation

Gold Sponsors

National Science Foundation
Sensors, Inc.

Silver Sponsors

Johnson Controls-SAFT
Advanced Power Solutions
Ballard Power Systems, Inc.
Michelin North America
Renewable Fuels Association

Bronze Sponsors

Vector CANtech, Inc.
Caterpillar, Inc.
Intrepid Control Systems, Inc.
Hydrogenics Corporation
MotoTron Corporation
Gamma Technologies, Inc.
Maxwell Technologies
Igus, Inc.
XM Radio
First Technology

Participating Schools

Michigan Technological University
Mississippi State University
Ohio State University
Pennsylvania State University
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
San Diego State University
Texas Tech University
University of Akron
University of California, Davis
University of Michigan
University of Tennessee
University of Texas at Austin
University of Tulsa
University of Waterloo
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Virginia Tech
West Virginia University

Contact Information

  • UWAFT Team
    James Goh
    Business Director
    Stratacomm Strategic
    Jenny Rios
    Natural Resources Canada
    Office of the Minister
    Kathleen Olson
    Director of Communications