Categorized | Features

F.P. Walshe student set to create hybrid vehicle

F.P. Walshe school Grade 11 student Jonathan Colp plans to convert a gas-powered car into a hybrid that would also take hydrogen fuel. He is looking for financial support from the community.

An F.P. Walshe school student with his eye on the future is looking for sponsors to support the conversion of a gas-fueled car to electricity and hydrogen.
Jonathan Colp, in Grade 11 at F.P. Walshe, is hoping to attract financial backing to convert a late-model Honda Civic in a project that will also earn him credits at school.
“The project that I am looking to undertake will be an exploration into some alternative energy systems that I think will go into the next generation of vehicles with a focus on low environmental impact,” Colp explained.
The idea has fueled Colp’s imagination since he was a boy. Now 16, he’s determined to make it a reality.
“Since my childhood of going on the road with my dad (Wade Colp) in his semi I have been inspired to find a better means of moving goods and people from point A to B,”Colp said. “The normal gas engine is only about 25 per cent efficient, so that means, of $50 to a tank of gas, only $12.50 is going to actually be moving your car. Whereas an electric motor is upwards of 90 per cent efficient.”
But since the range electric cars can travel is limited, Colp decided to convert the car into a hybrid that would also take hydrogen fuel.
“I’ve chosen to set up the drive train so that the engine that runs on hydrogen will run at its most efficient rpm no matter the speed of the car. There will also be a battery pack able to supply the electric motor with power for about 60 kilometres before the hydrogen engine kicks in.”
After doing some research Colp discovered he could build the car and receive some high school credits as a bonus. The project falls under Alberta Education’s special projects initiative that gives students an opportunity to earn credits for learning experiences outside regular classroom instruction.
“I think this is an incredible idea,” F.P. Walshe academic advisor Richard Brown said. “However it turns out it’s going to be an incredible learning opportunity for Jonathan.”
Brown explained Colp has two or three things he’s got to get in place to see the idea materialize.
He has to have the financial backing in place.
He has to complete a written proposal to the school.

And he has to have a knowledgeable mentor or two in place who can oversee the project, and grade it.
“We need to have a demonstration of learning achieved,” Brown said. “I can’t necessarily provide that for a project like this. He needs to have a benefactor – some expert, some mentor, to oversee the project.”
That would likely be Colp’s Red Deer cousin Ken Doan, an electrician who would help with the electrical aspects, and his dad Wade Colp who would help with the mechanical end of things.
Colp estimates the project will cost something like $24,000. That includes $9,000 for the Honda Civic; $6,500 for the electric motor, controller, charger, and miscellaneous electrical components; $4,500 for the lithium ion battery pack; $1,000 for the hydrogen generation equipment; $1,500 for the generator, and $1,500 for insurance during the testing.
People interested in supporting Colp can contact him at 403-553-2616 or e-mail him at for further information. Direct funding addressed to Jonathan Colp can be mailed to P.O. Box 2091, Fort Macleod, T0L 0Z0.
Donors giving $250 or more will have their names on decals displayed on the car during the testing of the drive train.
Time frame for the project’s completion is about five to six months.
Colp’s long-term plans include enlisting to become a marine engineering officer in the navy. He hopes eventually to become a naval engineer designing ships.