Throughout the past decades, humans’ destruction to the planet Earth has become a very alarming problem. The buildings people live in, the food they consume, and the insubstantial luxuries people exploit are creating a detrimental consequence on the very planet they heavily depend on. Because of these disturbing facts, governments all over the world have been formulating innovative strategies to minimize the current destructions to the environment. One of the most promising approaches being encouraged and continually developed by many countries today are hydrogen cars.
Many nations view hydrogen as an excellent alternative energy medium for vehicles because it is the most abundant of all chemical elements in the planet and does not emit harmful chemicals into the environment. Without a doubt, when hydrogen powered cars become the accepted mode of transportation, people will certainly reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, accomplish lower prices at the fuel pumps, and cut back on the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Hydrogen Car Industry In recent years, major automaker companies are continually working together to further develop even more practical hydrogen-fueled cars.
In fact, many of these companies have already released their versions of hydrogen-powered cars. Honda, for instance, has already showcased a few lines of hydrogen cars and has announced some plans to expand its line of passenger cars in the near future. Likewise, Mercedes is expected to start this year a small-scale production of hydrogen cars. More significantly, a number of gasoline stations are getting on board by planning to supply hydrogen fuels along with gasoline at their pumps so that driving and owning these cars become more convenient for the general public.
However, many experts still believe that additional research must be done before hydrogen cars become a common sight on all of the highways in the world. Although hydrogen cars is now readily available in the market place, many automaker companies still believe that mass production of hydrogen vehicles will not yet take place during this new decade. Currently, hydrogen cars are apparently very expensive, but these carmakers believe that by the start of 2020, the prices of these cars will go down dramatically.
California Fuel Cell Partnership predicts that between 2012 and 2020, mass production of fuel cells and internal combustion hydrogen cars will significantly take-off (Llanos, 2004). They further believe that as the volume of their production increases, the production cost would go down. Accordingly, if 100,000 hydrogen cars are produced in the future, the prices of these cars will expectedly go down to as much as $20,000 to $25,000 per car (Llanos, 2004). Hydrogen Fuel Routes There are two methods wherein hydrogen can be used to power vehicles—indirectly through fuel cells, or directly into a converted internal combustion engine.
Small car companies like the Hydrogen Car Company and Robinson’s Company are more focus on producing hydrogen internal combustion engine given that most of their cars are primarily designed to run on biodiesel and only secondarily on hydrogen fuels as a backup source. During combustion, the hydrogen combines with oxygen, which eventually generates energy that is capable of powering the vehicle. In 2000, BMW successfully demonstrated this technology by publicly carrying people in a fleet of 15 sedans powered by hydrogen internal combustion engines across a particular neighborhood in Germany (Australian Academy of Science, 2001).
Fuel cells, on the other hand, are like batteries that are capable of triggering an electrochemical reaction between oxygen and hydrogen that eventually turns to electricity. However, unlike regular batteries which accumulate electricity, hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity as the car moves. Major carmakers like Anuvu, Honda, etc. are more inclined to use fuel cells in view of the fact that they are cleaner than the internal combustion engine route, which burns fuel in the engine. Moreover, fuel cell engine is more efficient on hydrogen than internal combustion engine.
The same amount of hydrogen can power fuel cell vehicles at least twice as longer than a modified internal combustion engine (Australian Academy of Science, 2001). Costs of Having Hydrogen Cars At present, the price of hydrogen fuels being sold by industrial gas suppliers roughly cost $10 per kilo. However, hydrogen fuels produce two to three times mileage when compared to a gallon of gasoline. By 2015, the Department of Energy is aiming to lessen the cost of hydrogen fuels at around $2 to $3 per kilo (Love to Know, 2009). In terms of engine conversion, the current cost is likewise somewhat expensive.
Most conversion for Hummer cars start at $60,000, pickup trucks at $99,995, and cost of Shelby Cobras run about $149,000 (Llanos, 2004). For Ford trucks, vans and other luxury SUVs, the cost of hydrogen internal combustion engine conversion normally ranges between $30,000 and $80,000, while fuel cells engine conversion for pickups and vans can costs between $99,995 and $149,995 (Llanos, 2004). Considering the environmental and health benefits obtained in using hydrogen cars, the aforesaid costs are unquestionably a very small price to pay.
Hydrogen Cars vs. Other Hybrid Cars Unlike many of the green cars and other hybrid cars available on the market today, hydrogen cars are the only type of cars that present the assurance of zero-emission technology (Hydrogen Cars Now, 2009). Obviously, not like fossil-fuel burning cars that emit different sorts of pollutants such as nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and microscopic and ozone particulate matter, the only byproduct from hydrogen cars is water vapor (Hydrogen Cars Now, 2009). Although other green and hybrid cars have addressed the concerns of greenhouse gases emissions, only hydrogen cars guarantee zero emission of noxious wastes.
According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the conversion from fossil fuel powered cars to hydrogen powered cars would eliminate more than a billion tons of greenhouse gases into the environment every year (as cited in Hydrogen Cars Now, 2009). United States There are already a number of hydrogen cars running on the road today. In European Union, Japan, and California, several hydrogen cars are being used as fleet vehicles. In the United States, an increasing number of car companies are now selling hydrogen vehicles.
Industrial gas dealers are likewise selling hydrogen in cylinders that range from $1 to $20 per kilo to facilitate the fuel needs of these environment-friendly vehicles (Llanos, 2004). However, as of the moment, there are only a few hydrogen filling stations operating across the globe. In fact, California, which has the most hydrogen stations in the United States, currently has only 13 stations, although it is planning to establish 170 more stations by the end of 2010 (Llanos, 2004). Moreover, the government is still carefully sorting out the most excellent ways to store, distribute, and produce hydrogen cars.
Future of Hydrogen Cars While other types of alternative fuels can be stored, trucked, and piped in the existing system for gasoline, the nature of hydrogen will necessitate a whole new fuel distribution infrastructure (California Fuel Cell Partnership, 2009). As a result, consumer distribution system as of the moment is still not in place. Moreover, the durability and expensive cost of hydrogen cars, the cars’ incapacity to amass large amounts of hydrogen fuel, and the lack of a carbon-free method of generating the hydrogen are making the widespread availability hydrogen cars even more unattainable.
Accordingly, it is expected that hydrogen cars will not make a significant impact on petroleum use, carbon emissions, or greenhouse gas emissions within the next decade because of the absence of the aforesaid indispensable requirements for hydrogen cars to operate across-the-board. Nonetheless, despite these current inadequacies, many experts are still hopeful that in the near future, hydrogen operated vehicles will become a full-fledged transportation system all over the world (California Fuel Cell Partnership, 2009).
Conclusion Technologically and ecologically, hydrogen is the most sensible fuel right now for automobiles. However, hydrogen fuel does not go off free in nature; it must be manufactured through fuel cells and converted internal combustion engines. In view of this, experts believe that the mass production of these cars will only start within the next decade. In fact, as of the moment, automakers are still carefully sorting out the most excellent ways to store, distribute, and produce hydrogen cars.
Nevertheless, automakers are continually pushing for the development of hydrogen cars because they believe that unless society deviates from current dependence on fossil fueled cars, the problems associated with fossil fuels will certainly not be eliminated. When hydrogen powered cars become the status quo, people will certainly reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, accomplish lower prices at the fuel pumps, and be able to decrease the release of greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.
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