Hydrogen Cars Are Not All Hot Air
Ever hear of hydrogen cars? This new breed of cars being developed far exceeds the current gasoline-electric hybrid cars as far as cleaning up the environment and lessening the U. S. dependence upon foreign oil. Automakers expect to have hydrogen cars in the showrooms in the next 5 – 10 years.
So, what’s all the hoopla about hydrogen? Plenty. Hydrogen is the most plentiful element in the universe. With such abundance, there is no change of running out unlike the fossil fuels. If you remember your high school chemistry, you’ll know that water is made up of two parts hydrogen and one part water.
That means that hydrogen can be created for hydrogen cars by splitting water via electrolysis. It only means that by using fuel cells to power hydrogen cars, that hydrogen and oxygen can be run through a cell (generating electricity and heat) and joined together at the end of the process to produce its only bi-product, water.
This means that hydrogen fuel cell powered cars will only dispense a small amount of steam (water in the air) and no pollutants. This kind of zero pollution vehicle will help with current smog problems, air quality-related health problems, greenhouse gases, global warming and the hole in the ozone. You just can’t get a greener green car that a hydrogen car.
The other benefit of hydrogen cars running on “hydrogen highways” (as both President George W. Bush and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are calling them) is that this will lessen the U. S. dependence upon foreign oil. By using hydrogen as an alternative fuel source, no longer will OPEC have the stranglehold upon our economy and subjugating us to ever-increasing gasoline prices.
What has to happen to make this a reality? With current technology, the hydrogen cars are still too expensive for the consumer market, so prices will need to come down as new technology is developed. In addition, the infrastructure will have to be in place to support a hydrogen highway network. Fuel stations, such as the 15 currently operating in California, will need to be expanded to a nationwide network. And probably the most important aspect of having the hydrogen highway become a reality is stepping up economical production of hydrogen for use in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Hydrogen does not occur in any significant amounts by itself in nature. Hydrogen can be found in compounds however, such as water or in natural gas and methods can be used to extract the hydrogen from the other compounds. With current technology, the energy needed to extract the hydrogen is nearly the same as the energy gained by the hydrogen itself, so more advanced and economical methods of producing hydrogen from solar, wind, hydro and gas reformation power will be need so that enough hydrogen is available to support the new hydrogen economy.
It may be another 5 – 10 years away until the new line of hydrogen cars start rolling off the showroom floors, but h2 vehicles, as they are already known will be the “next big thing” in the automotive industry for this century.
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Hydrogen Cars - Shaun Mackey writes for Hydrogen Cars, a resource site featuring the latest concept autos, hydrogen highway, fuel cell technology, H2 engines, production and infrastructure issues.