Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars: Worth the Investment?

Topics: Fuel cell, Hydrogen vehicle, Hydrogen economy Pages: 5 (2121 words) Published: June 24, 2013
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars: Worth the Investment?
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but only recently have people been able to harness this resource and turn it into energy. Hydrogen fuel cell cars are one such advancement made in the effort to turn hydrogen gas into electricity. Fuel cells in the car are used to convert hydrogen into an electrical current, and thus power the vehicle. Fuel cells convert hydrogen and oxygen into water while producing electricity. Hydrogen fuel cell cars are also quiet (similar to an electric vehicle), very energy efficient, have zero emissions and have equivalent range and performance to their gasoline counterparts. However, these types of cars still haven’t gained popularity despite these advantages. This is because more research still needs to go into this new emerging technology. Advancements still needed to be made in order for FCVs (Fuel Cell Vehicles) to be successful and competitive alternatives for consumers. Things such as onboard hydrogen storage, fuel cell durability and reliability, readily available refueling stations, and of course vehicle cost need to be addressed.1 In the long run however, the advantages of Fuel Cell Vehicles will outweigh the costs. Thus, the government should invest more into the development of FCVs because they are environmentally friendly, the source of energy to power them (hydrogen) will sustain us into perpetuity, and further advancements in this field will have many additional applications pertaining to energy consumption.

Gasoline powered vehicles release a lot of green house gasses, but mostly carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. On the other hand, Hydrogen powered vehicles emit no green house gasses; just heat and water. This water is also pollutant free and clean enough for people to even drink.5 FCVs will also reduce the amount of air pollution in the U.S (mainly emitted from gasoline vehicles). If the hydrogen fuel is produced through fossil fuels, some pollution is made, but it is much less in comparison to the amount generated by regular gasoline powered vehicles. According to the Department of Energy, FCVs are ranked 10th in the amount of both C02 emissions and Smog emissions produced (with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best)1. Also, Hydrogen Fuel Cell cars exhibit maximum fuel efficiency, even when the car is low on fuel. Their efficiency is as high as 60%2, unlike typical gasoline cars, whose efficiency is at only about 14%-16%, depending on the drive cycle1. When fully fueled, FCVs can travel about 210 miles and average 56 mpg (combined city/hwy)1. This will help lower the demand for hydrogen refueling, which in return will lower the amount of CO2 gasses produced from companies creating hydrogen from fossil fuels. Furthermore, Hydrogen does nothing to the environment if it was accidently released, unlike oil spills, which devastate the surrounding ecosystem. One such example is the BP oil spill. A In addition, making Hydrogen and supplying it will have a significantly lower impact on the ecosystem in comparison to the production of oil, which has resulted in cutting down forests, poisoning lakes and rivers, oil spills, destruction of wildlife, soil contamination, and pollution of air. Thus, Hydrogen powered vehicles will have a more positive impact on the ecosystem and are a better alternative for cars to run on. Currently, gasoline is the main fuel powering our cars, and it is a non-renewable resource. On the other hand, Hydrogen Powered cars have a fuel supply that can sustain us for as long as we need it. Hydrogen can be extracted many different ways including Steam Reforming, Partial Oxidation, Plasma Reforming, Coal, Electrolysis, Thermolysis, Water Splitting, and much more6. Currently most of the hydrogen we produce comes from fossil fuels; 48% comes from natural gas, 30% from oil, 18% from coal, and just 4% from electrolysis (An electrical current is used to separate water into oxygen...

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2. Karthik, Narayani. "Fuel Cell Pros and Cons." Buzzle.com. Buzzle.com, 04 Oct. 2011. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <http://www.buzzle.com/articles/fuel-cells-pros-and-cons.html>.
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