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Hydrogen fuel cell technology Essay Example

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Hydrogen fuel cell technology

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Hydrogen fuel cell technology. This is much cheaper but it defeats the point somewhat as it still uses fossil fuels and creates carbon dioxide as a by-product” (“Energy”, 2002). However, it is widely accepted that the use of hydrogen-powered vehicles would successfully alleviate air pollution even if hydrogen was manufactured by this technique. Solar and wind energy can be also used to generate hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis of water (Lakhapate, 2002).Though the technology has economic and environmental advantages, there are certain obstacles to be surmounted before the national economy can make the transition to hydrogen fuel cells. Composed of a single electron and a single proton, hydrogen is the simplest and most common of all elements and will therefore seep out of any container regardless of its material strength.

Because of this, hydrogen stored in tanks of any construction will evaporate at an approximate rate two percent per 24 hours.  As hydrogen gas penetrates a container, it initiates structural changes which cause the metal to become increasingly brittle. Another concern is the size of fuel tanks necessary to carry hydrogen fuel.To substitute the energy capability delivered by 20 gallons of gasoline would require approximately 62,000 gallons of hydrogen gas. To this point, low-density compressed hydrogen is used to power automobiles, which does not allow for the same range as does gasoline. Additionally, compressed hydrogen carries the risk of leaking through fuel tanks or escaping from the result of an accident thus causing an explosion. The Hindenburg incident is an example of the volatility of hydrogen gas. Liquefied hydrogen stores in a much smaller space, 60 gallons equates to 15 gallons of gasoline. However, there are the impediments to the storage of liquid hydrogen. It is a very cold substance, enough cold enough to freeze air (Romm, 2000). This frigidity quality plugs up valves in lines that carry the liquid hydrogen which has caused accidents in experimental vehicles. The costs involved in liquefying and keeping hydrogen cold is thus far excessive and the energy used in this process negates energy saved by its use. However, the rate of energy return is certain to improve as research continues. Other research has found that powdered metal hybrid compositions used for storage tanks allows for less volatility of hydrogen but are far heavier than conventional tanks (Romm,. Hydrogen fuel cell technology.

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Works Cited

“Energy, Alternatives to Oil.” Hydrogen. (2002). BBC News. November 8, 2006 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/world/2002/disposable_planet/energy/alternatives/hydrogen.stm>

Lakhapate, PJ. “Fuel Cells – Powering Your Home, Your Car, Tomorrow?” Science. (December 2002). Africa Magazine. November 8, 2006 <http://www.scienceinafrica.co.za/2002/december/fuel.htm>

Mello, Tara Baukus. “Fuel Cell Future: Goodbye, Gasoline Hello, Hydrogen.” Edmunds.com. (May 25, 2004). November 8, 2006 <http://www.edmunds.com/advice/fueleconomy/articles/102059/article.html>

Romm, Joseph J. “The Hype About Hydrogen Fact and Fiction in the Race to Save the Climate.” Culture Change. (July 4, 2005). Sustainable Energy Institute. November 8, 2006 <http://www.culturechange.org/hydrogen.htm>

Pates, Mikkel. “Hydrogen Power is Fuel of the Future.” Grand Forks Herald. (February 13, 2006). November 8, 2006 <http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/FuelCellToday/IndustryInformation/IndustryInformationExternal/NewsDisplayArticle/0,1602,7219,00.html>

Turner, John A. & Block, David. “The Sun May Hold the Key to the Future of Fuel Cells.” AFC News Source. (December 31, 2002). November 8, 2006 <http://www.acfnewsource.org/science/future_fuel_source.html>

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preview essay on Hydrogen fuel cell technology
  • Pages: 6 (1500 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Science
  • Level: Undergraduate
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