How Modern Transport Fuels Effect Our Environment

Topics: Natural gas, Hydrogen vehicle, Fuel cell Pages: 7 (2466 words) Published: June 15, 2006
How Modern Transport Fuels Effect our Environment

Why is looking at alternate fuels important? There are several reasons, but the most important reason is that air pollution kills in the neighborhood of 3 million people every year and air pollution affects more than 1 billion people in a negative way. That's over 1/6 of the earths population being harmed by air pollution, that's a trend that cannot continue without extreme repercussions to everyone on the planet.

Granted, air pollution created by cars is not the only pollution on the planet but it is imperative to begin with what pollutes the air and atmosphere first. How are we going to do that? Is it by keeping the status quo and allowing these harmful pollutants to increase? Or are we going to finally realize that our hunger for transport is not going away, so we need to look at other sources of fuels for our vehicles that will help our atmosphere regain its balance?

Hydrogen happens to be one of those sources for fuel. It is the simplest and most abundant element on. We will never run out of this element as a source for fuel. Compared with gasoline, the reduction in pollutant is enormous. This is as close as it gets to a perfect man-made fuel. By examining Hydrogen as the source for fuel we will begin to see why it's the most appropriate fuel.

As a completely nonpolluting fuel, it may hold the answer to growing environmental concerns about accumulation of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and the Greenhouse Effect. Hydrogen is not an energy source but a carrier that, like electricity, must be manufactured. Today hydrogen is manufactured by "decarburizing" fossil fuels. In the future it will be derived from water and solar energy. Because it can be made by a variety of methods, it can be easily adapted by different countries and economies. There will certainly be economic difficulties in replacing current energy systems with an entirely new one. Although the process of converting from oil based economy to a hydrogen-based economy would be complex, the environmental and health benefits would far outweigh the costs.

Another reason why Hydrogen should be our eco-fuel is because of environmental concerns, which now has escalated to include strategic concerns in dealing with oil. For one, it will run out soon and will lead to further conflicts as it already has in the Middle East. The argument has become as much political as it is environmental. The inhumanity of 9/11 made that perfectly clear for us. We cannot afford the cost of playing politics with oil any longer. We don't need to be reminded of the burning oil fields of Kuwait, the events of Afghanistan or now Iraq. Oil has now become a matter of national security. We need to relieve ourselves of that burden. We can best do that by decreasing our demand for it. As of right now we are hostages in essence to those oil producing countries. We import 11 billion tons of crude oil a day, that's 55% of our daily consumption. That has to stop! The only way that the US can insulate itself from further dependence to a disappearing fuel source is to develop an alternate energy source that is readily available domestically. Our options are: coal, natural gas, wind, water, solar, nuclear and hydrogen. Out of these hydrogen is the most expensive to develop for our fuel source, but it stores energy more effectively than batteries, burns twice as effectively in fuel cell (device in which hydrogen activates energy to electricity) as gasoline does in today's engines and leaves only water behind. It's plentiful, clean, and fully capable of powering cars.

BMW's new experiment with hydrogen fuel is proving a success. It has demonstrated the ability to provide normal looking vehicles with the same performance, if not greater, than gasoline fueled vehicles with a reduction in fuel prices and almost non-existent emissions of harmful pollutant into the atmosphere.

BMW was able...
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