Kareem Afzal ’93 has been traveling the world to sing the praises of hydrogen fueling, and rightly so. He is in the business of turning water and electricity into hydrogen fuel, which, with zero emissions besides water vapor, is picking up speed as a clean way to power vehicles. Kareem will speak at Assembly at the start of Alumni Weekend, Friday, May 4, 2018.
Kareem is Vice President of PDC Machines, Inc., a chemical processing design company based in Warminster, PA. PDC Machines recently teamed up with two other energy companies to develop SimpleFuel, an on-site hydrogen generation and dispensing appliance.
In 2017, SimpleFuel won the U.S. Department of Energy’s $1 million H2 Refuel H-Prize Competition, which challenged America’s innovators to develop systems for small-scale hydrogen fueling. Because hydrogen infrastructure remains the largest barrier to widespread adoption of fuel cell electrical vehicles, the competition was launched to encourage the development of alternative, convenient fueling options for US consumers switching to electric vehicles.
SimpleFuel looks a bit like a gasoline dispenser found in the average gas station, except its footprint is much lighter: SimpleFuel uses water and electricity to produce high-purity hydrogen fuel for vehicles such as cars and forklifts. SimpleFuel delivers up to five kilograms of hydrogen fuel to vehicles per day, enough to power one electric car for 300-360 miles.
“The aim is zero emissions with zero compromise,” said Kareem in an interview with Philly.com. “You can travel roughly the same distance as a gasoline vehicle, and be able to refuel in three to five minutes.”
Kareem said that a major challenge of the fuel cell industry is to ensure consumers that hydrogen is safe. Hydrogen fuel has yet to fully recover in the public eye since the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, but hydrogen fuel is actually considered safer than gasoline and is used extensively in industrial applications. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are likely to grow in availability and popularity over the next several years, and Kareem predicts that hydrogen fuel is the future of clean transportation.