"The engine runs a little cooler on hydrogen than it does on gasoline," said Brunetti, "and it's more efficient. You can run the engine a lot leaner."
Team members said the goal of the project was not to build a complete hydrogen conversion system, but to come up with a relatively inexpensive modification that could make use of alternative fuels and be used to boost the efficiency of gasoline engines.
"About half the parts we used could be bought at one of the larger hardware stores, which would bring the price down more," said Brunetti.
Since water is the only byproduct of using hydrogen as a fuel source, interest in hydrogen conversion is growing.
The installation last year of a small hydrogen fuel production facility and filling station at Yeager Airport helped motivate the team to look into ways to use the clean-burning fuel.
Commercial gasoline-to-hydrogen conversion kits cost several thousand dollars and a vehicle's range is limited.
"Coming up with a large, safe storage tank is probably the biggest problem with using hydrogen fuel now - that and developing an affordable fuel cell," said Drennen.
"The truck at Yeager that runs on hydrogen has storage tanks in its bed, and it can only go about 70 miles without refilling."
The three Tech students said they hope future mechanical design class students will eventually install their modified engine in a vehicle.
"I hope it gets put in a car and road-tested," said Brunetti.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.