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Hydrogen as an Alternative Fuel for Internal Combustion Engines

Uploaded by paintbreak2000 on Nov 16, 2004

Hard to believe that the simplest atom in the universe is used in the making of the most destructive weapon known to man isn’t it? Well so is the fact that it will soon (we hope) become the replacement for petroleum-based fuels, and just about every other form of fuel too. One electron orbiting one proton is all that hydrogen is, and it is mankind’s future. It is easy to manufacture, (although the government says otherwise,) safe and easy to store, and has only one by-product…water.

The way that most hydrogen is made today is by electrolysis. Electrolysis is the reaction to an electrical current being sent through water from one electrode to the other. To do this, the electrical current must be at least 1.23 volts. When the current interacts with the water it splits the molecules into their base atoms, which are hydrogen and oxygen. There are several ways to collect the gas, but that is not important. Now you have hydrogen gas! Well, YOU probably don’t have hydrogen gas, but that’s how it’s made.

There are many ways to extract hydrogen, but only a few are economically efficient. Solar panels, wind power, hydroelectric, geothermal, and several other sources are economically more efficient than burning petroleum or coal to extract hydrogen. By burning coal or petroleum to extract hydrogen, you create hydrogen as a storage medium, NOT an energy source. Only by using renewable sources such as solar and hydroelectric power, can hydrogen be considered an energy source. In all extraction techniques, energy is required to make the hydrogen. If the government allotted more funding, then we could be driving cars that produce water instead of carbon monoxide.

Most electrolysis devices using solar power convert water into hydrogen and oxygen with an efficiency of 4-6 percent, which isn’t very efficient. The devices would convert approximately 4-6 percent of the sunlight into hydrogen. But in 2000, a team of German, Israeli, and Japanese scientists finished work on a device that boosted efficiency to 18.3%. Theoretically, 40% or higher efficiency CAN be achieved. But the current estimates for maximum efficiency are staying around 31%.

With the 18.3% efficiency, commercial production is feasible. This efficiency is only concerned with the extraction procedure. Hydrogen gas efficiency with internal combustion engines is near 90% while gasoline is coughing along at 25%. Hydrogen already has petroleum beat and it’s only in its infancy. Unfortunately...

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Uploaded by:   paintbreak2000

Date:   11/16/2004

Category:   Technology

Length:   4 pages (995 words)

Views:   3037

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