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Fuel-Cell Cars: The Wave of the Future?

Aug 22, 2008
Hydrogen fuel cell cars are expensive and impractical. So why would we even consider them? With gasoline prices well over $4 per gallon and reduction of CO2 emissions a priority, all alternative fuels and future car technologies are getting a closer scrutiny these days. Not only that, if a proper infrastructure was created, Hydrogen could very well be the world's next propulsion fuel. Its cheap and abundant...so what are we waiting for?

What are they, and how do they work?

Hydrogen can be burned in a combustion engine or be converted back into electricity through a fuel cell. In an internal combustion automotive engine, gasoline or hydrogen can be used in a dual-fuel system that will suffice until a widespread hydrogen infrastructure can be built. These dual fuel cell systems are much like the electric hybrids like Toyato's Prius, yet they use hydrogen rather than electricity to supplement the gasoline.

In the long-term, with an infrastructure in place, hydrogen-on-demand vehicles can use either a hydrogen compound for internal combustion, or a fuel cell can create electro-mechanical energy and water. A fuel cell isn't as complicated as a conventional gas or diesel engine and isn't subject to high temperatures, corrosion or some of the structural weaknesses found in other types of engines. This affords a flexibility and durability for Hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen is processed through the fuel cell and combined with oxygen to create electricity. This newly formed energy is sent to pistons to propel the car forward (or reverse if you like). These fuel cell cars promise zero emissions and pollutants, with the only tailpipe emission being water vapor. Fuel-Cells are basically a combination of a battery and an engine making them a very unique advancement in car propulsion systems. Every year more and more efficient fuel cells are churned out by engineers and factories propelling the hydrogen car possibilities forward. Fuel-Cell conventions and conglomerates abound and with more and more government grants focusing on Fuel-Cell and Hydrogen Car development, the future continues to get brighter for Hydrogen Fuel-Cell cars.

While there is concern that putting hydrogen fuel cell cars on the road is as bad of an idea as was the ill-fated Hindenburg, experts say the two aren't related, and recent advances in car technology include development of safe, on-board hydrogen storage systems.
Infrastructure and hydrogen highways.

If you're not familiar with the term, a hydrogen highway is a chain of hydrogen-equipped filling stations along a road. What will it take to make it happen? Norway started the HyNor Project in 2006; Japan has several stations, as does Germany, and California now reports having 25 stations in place from San Diego to Sacramento. All of these stations will add to a momentum of change and will hopefully give rise to a new determination to improve on present Hydrogen powered vehicle prototypes in order to begin to switch our fleet of petroleum based cars. The Hydrogen car will arrive even if it takes time: The future is now.
About the Author
Andrew Beckers writes about subjects important to everyone. Learn more about fuel-cell cars.
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