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Hydrogen Powered Cars for Today

Mar 27, 2008
In many ways, hydrogen is the ideal fuel. It can deliver lots of energy when it burns, and its clean. Burn hydrogen and you get water instead of the gunk that comes out of a car's tailpipe. It would be great to run cars on hydrogen. But there are problems. Storing large quantities of hydrogen can be hard, and the stuff can be volatile in an accident - remember the Hindenberg? Even so, there is a safe way to use hydrogen to power cars today. And it works with most of the cars on the road right now.

The key to building a hydrogen powered car today is to create a hydrogen-gasoline hybrid. Instead of getting all the car's power from hydrogen, you burn a bit of hydrogen with the gasoline to increase the car's fuel efficiency and reduce the amount of pollution created. It isn't a completely hydrogen powered car, but a system like this is surely a great first step toward increasing your gas mileage (thereby reducing the use of fossil fuels), protecting the environment, and saving some serious money on gasoline costs. We'll talk more about these benefits in a minute, but first, let's talk about where we're going to get the hydrogen to do all this.

Where Does the Hydrogen Come From?

We already talked about how hydrogen can be difficult to store and explosive under the wrong circumstances. So to make hydrogen powered cars practical, we need a way to store hydrogen that's safe and efficient for use in cars. Scientists are working on various proposals like hydrogen fuel cells and special tanks made with nanotech materials that can safely and compactly store masses of hydrogen. But there is another way.

Hydrogen is stored all around us in vast quantities. There is even a mass of it inside our bodies. It's locked up in water. Every molecule of water consists of one atom of oxygen and two atoms of hydrogen. In the form of water, hydrogen is easy to store and certainly won't explode in an accident. All we need is a way to get the hydrogen out of the water when we need it. To do that, we use electrolysis.

Electrolysis uses electricity to break down water into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen atoms. It's a common, well-understood process that you probably experimented with in high school science class. Now using electrolysis to generate enough hydrogen to provide all the power for a car as it is needed isn't practical. But generating a smaller amount of hydrogen that can be mixed with the gasoline to improve a car's performance is possible. As a matter of fact, you can buy a kit to convert your own family sedan into a hydrogen powered car today.

Now that we know how this is possible, let's get back to the benefits of actually making this modification.

The Benefits of A Hydrogen Powered Car

There are three main benefits to a hydrogen powered car (aside from the coolness of it all). Once again, they are:

* Greater fuel efficiency
* Cleaner exhaust
* Reduced costs for fuel

Greater fuel efficiency comes from burning the hydrogen along with the gasoline. Reports claim as much as a 40% increase. Imagine getting 40% more miles per gallon from your car!

Because the hydrogen burns so cleanly while increasing the car's mileage, a hydrogen powered car pollutes less. While this issue isn't in the front of everyone's minds in this time of high gas prices, less pollution is always a good idea.

Finally, with gas prices hitting record highs and predictions of new records to come, the significantly increased mileage of a hydrogen powered car means big savings on fuel costs.

With gas prices skyrocketing and thousands of hydrogen-gasoline conversions on the worlds roads, isn't it time for you to start thinking about turning your automobile into a hydrogen powered car?
About the Author
Bill Mann is a freelance technology writer who helps people benefit from the technology all around us. He is a big fan of alternative fuel systems and strongly recommends that you go to this site to learn more about converting to a hydrogen powered car.
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