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The discovery of nuclear chain reactions need not bring about the destruction of mankind any more than did the discovery of matches. We only must do everything in our power to safeguard against its abuse.

Albert Einstein

Hydrogen Vehicle

A Brief Description:

An automobile which uses hydrogen as its primary source of power for locomotion. These cars generally use the hydrogen in one of two methods: combustion or fuel-cell conversion. In combustion, the hydrogen is "burned" in engines in fundamentally the same method as traditional gasoline cars. In fuel-cell conversion, the hydrogen is turned into electricity through fuel cells which then power electric motors. With either method, the major byproduct from the spent hydrogen is water that can move also a micro-turbine.

Hydrogen can be obtained from decomposition of methane (natural gas), coal (by a process known as coal gasification), liquid petroleum products, biomass (biomass gasification), high heat sources (by a process called thermolysis), or from water using electricity (electrolysis). A primary benefit of using pure hydrogen as a power source would be that it uses oxygen from the air to produce water vapor as exhaust (and very little nitrogen oxides from the nitrogen in the air when burning at high temperatures). Another benefit is that, theoretically, the source of pollution created today by burning fossil fuels could be moved to centralized power plants, where the byproducts of burning fossil fuels can be better controlled. However, as explained below, the technical challenges required to realize this benefit may not be solved for many decades, if ever.

The major challenges in using hydrogen in cars, are the very high costs and the low energy efficiencies, with low probabilities so far, for successful solutions for the several challenges. Therefore, only a few demonstration vehicles have been made at high cost.

31 Jan 2007 23:12:16

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