A powerful project wins the Q-Park Thesis Award

​Developing reliable alternative sources of energy has become a huge concern in recent years. Making use of electricity produced by parked cars could one day help fix the problem.

This concept, dubbed "The Car Park Power Plant" (CPPP), was explored by former Systems Engineering, Policy Analysis and Management student Jurriaan Coomans in his 2015 MSc project. It won the Ward Vleugels Q-Park Thesis Award on February 26, 2016.

The concept was originally conceived by Dr. A.J.M. van Wijk (Department of Radiation, Science & Technology) and it's currently in development at TU Delft's Green Village. CPPPs are definitely futuristic and most current cars, which are still fueled by gasoline, couldn't be used. Instead, power would be harnessed from hydrogen vehicles.

These vehicles generate electricity from engines that create only water as waste. This means that they could be left running while parked. According to one report, 25 hydrogen passenger cars could generate as much energy as a single modern wind turbine. They would be capable of creating electricity in addition to heat when it isn't even breezy outside. This technology could help store energy during off peak hours and also be used by hydrogen vehicle owners to power their homes. "Current estimations are that one car can power a hundred households," Coomans explained. "This number is impressive, but it also shows us the hard truth about the inefficiencies of our current system."

Unfortunately, it could take engineers several more years to develop CPPPs. The hurdles they're facing include everything from industry economics to the efficiency of fuel cells. "Last but not least, this concept relies on the widespread usage of hydrogen cars," Coomans said. "It will definitely take quite some time before we have solved the chicken-egg problem with the hydrogen fleet/hydrogen refueling infrastructure."

You can learn more about the inner workings of CPPPs in Our Car as Power Plant, a free downloadable book written by Dr. Van Wijk and Leendert Verhoef, The Green Village's Science and Innovations Manager.

Coomans, Jurriaan, Exploring the Operation of a Car Park Power Plant: Formalising the Operation of a System Innovation With the Actor-Option Framework, Supervisors Lukszo, Z., Warnier, M.E., Chappin, E.J.L., Park Lee, E.H., Defence: June 5, 2015.