|Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars
One of the most widely explored alternate power systems for motorized
cars are hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles. There are more
hydrogen fuel cell vehicles being developed in 2008 than any other
concept automobiles. Put simply, a hydrogen fuel cell functions by
taking oxygen and combining it with hydrogen. It then passes
this mixture of hydrogen and oxygen through a catalyst which breaks it
down into protons and electrons and generates energy and power to an
electric motor. The only tailpipe exhaust and emissions are heat and a
small amount of water. If we could take a peek into the future we'd
likely find that hydrogen fuel cell auto manufacturers will be major
players, and it could happen in only a few short years.
You Aren't Driving A Hydrogen Vehicle Yet.
Modern vehicles being
constructed right now are incorporating on board hydrogen tanks, while
not so long ago the hydrogen was stored in tanks mounted to the roof.
As of this writing, there are no hydrogen fuel cell vehicles available
to the public. Here are some reasons why.
One, the production cost for fuel cells has been a constant challenge,
keeping this technology out of reach for most consumers. If hydrogen
powered cars were put on the market today, buyers would likely have to
pay well over $100,000 to own one - simply because the tech hasn't
caught up with manufacturing methods yet.
Two, in the United States there are only sixty hydrogen-fueling
stations nationwide. We can look forward to seeing many more of these
stations being built in the near future as the world 'Goes Green', but
as of right now most of them are located in the state of California.
Three, there is the problem of limited range and storage capacity for
current fuel cells vehicles being tested on the road today. Until these
vehicles can travel a much further distance, consumers won't be willing
to give up that convenience.
Four, hydrogen fuel cells are notoriously fragile and many of the road
hazards we deal with on a daily basis put too much wear and tear on the
cells themselves. Engineers and scientists are working on constructing
them from stronger materials.
Five, many of the designs today use costly materials such as platinum
in their manufacturing process.
Six, because hydrogen fuel cell vehicles emit water, freezing remains a
concern for potential owners living in colder climates.
Where Do We
Go From Here?
While hydrogen cars would carry a much higher price tag than most
vehicles, there would be many benefits to owning one. For starters,
they would likely offer a smoother ride and be much more
environmentally friendly than fossil fuel burning cars. Hydrogen can be
created a very reasonable cost and it is a renewable energy source.
Hydrogen cell vehicles offer great opportunities within the green
movement, and many have embraced the possibility of owning one someday.
While it may seem as though they are just now being introduced,
hydrogen fuel cells have been around for many years. These
vehicles are seen as a big part of the future for all automobiles as
oil based fuel is rapidly being depleted. Eventually prices for
hydrogen fuel celled vehicles will come down as manufacturing processes
are refined and new substances used in their catalysts are discovered.
Honda recently sent a limited amount of their new
hydrogen fuel vehicles to the market; leased to residents in Southern
California earlier this year. If testing goes well, Honda may offer
them in other select locations in the near future. Honda named
their hydrogen car the FCX Clarity, sporting a 150 horsepower (100
kilowatt) engine and equipped with six air bags. The
Clarity offers a new, smaller design fuel cell known as the V-Flow (The
Vertical Flow), and though "Home Energy Stations" can be fueled up from
the owners' home. This is a major component to its success since
hydrogen fueling stations are few and far in between.
Due to the current oil shortage and the rising costs of bringing in
fuel from foreign countries, hydrogen has now been labeled as the best
environmentally friendly and renewable fuel for the next generation of
cars, trucks, SUVs and other fuel powered vehicles. Hydrogen can be
produced from an abundance of sources including oil coal, biomass and
feed stocks. This allows countries to create and distribute hydrogen
for themselves with their own natural resources and supplies. This will
not only save money, but will also create jobs while improving
our global environment.
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