Social Impact Analysis (Hydrogen Fuel)

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The search for a renewable energy source has been a top priority to us a human race in the past decade. Many ideas have come in the form of wind, solar, and nuclear power, all having their own drawbacks. But, the one that will be focused upon in this analysis is hydrogen as a source of fuel, and the technology leading the way to making it a reality. This technology would affect everyone in one way or another if correctly used. So we must ask if this technology is beneficial to us, how it might hurt us, and whether it is worth pursuing from an ethical stance.
Background:
Hydrogen has already been under the micro scope for many years as an alternative fuel source to us because of its abundance and power. We have simply been lacking the technology to employ it in an efficient way. But a recent break through might speed the process up of putting such a fuel in place in our modern market. A “team of researchers from Virginia Tech has discovered a way to extract large quantities of hydrogen from any plant” [1]. The research found a method to convert large quantities of hydrogen from the most plentiful plant sugar found on earth, xylose. This method is most important because it extracts the hydrogen with little input energy and does so in an environmentally friendly manner. Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements found on earth, yet it must be separated into its pure form, H2, before being used as a fuel. The problem is, with current methods pure hydrogen “is just too expensive and time-consuming to produce” [2]. Current methods often require more energy from other sources like natural gas or coal burning electric plants to extract the hydrogen, than the hydrogen can actually produce itself. So in turn, hydrogen fuel which has been looked at to solve pollution problems, has in the past caused just as much pollution to produce, and defeated its own purpose. That is where this new technology can completely change everything. To liberate the hydrogen, “Virginia Tech



Cited: [1] Virginia Tech. "Breakthrough in hydrogen fuel production could revolutionize alternative energy market." ScienceDaily, 3 Apr. 2013. Web. 3 Apr. 2013. [2] “What is Hydrogen Energy”. Conserve Energy Future. Np. Nd. Web. 3 April 2013. <http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/Advantages_Disadvantages_HydrogenEnergy.php> [3] Leslie. Kim, “The Disadvantages of Hydrogen Fuel”. ehow. Nd. Web. 2 April 2013. <http://www.ehow.com/about_5125480_disadvantages-hydrogen-fuel.html> [4] “Hydrogen Fuel: Disadvantages and Advantages”. Cars Direct Research. 4 June 2010. Web. 31 March 2013. <http://www.carsdirect.com/green-cars/hydrogen-fuel-disadvantages-and-advantages---a-comparison-guide> [5] Nice, Karim, and Jonathan Strickland.  "How Fuel Cells Work"  18 September 2000.  HowStuffWorks.com. <http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/alternative-fuels/fuel-cell.htm>  03 April 2013 [6] “Code of Ethics”. ASCE Code of Ethics. Nd. Web. 3 April 2013. <http://www.asce.org/Leadership-and-Management/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/>

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