Fuel Cell Vehicles

Fuel Cell Vehicles – Zero Emission Vehicles of the Future

Zero emission vehicles are the future. One that we haven’t seen much of is the fuel cell powered vehicle. Fuel cells have been used on space crafts for many years. A vehicle that is considered zero emissions is one where the fuel cell is fueled by Hydrogen, and it has to be 100% hydrogen.

Fuel cell vehicles turn hydrogen fuel and oxygen into electricity. Cars with an electric motor can then be powered by using this electricity. This can be compared to traditional vehicles where the electricity from batteries power the motor in an electric vehicle. The combination of oxygen and hydrogen produces energy and water. In fuel cells, this can be accomplished without using any burning or combustion.

These cars are considered zero emission vehicles because the exhaust from these cars comes out as water vapor and steam. If the fuel cells didn’t get as hot as they do, water would just pour out of the exhaust pipe. But fuel cells get VERY hot, so it comes out as water vapor or steam. We have known of this technology for a long time though. Think of it like a space shuttle. Space shuttles are fueled with liquid oxygen and also liquid hydrogen. Then they are mixed together and ignited to cause a ridiculously hot fire which then propels the spacecraft into their air because of the expanding gases. This is what causes them to fly.

We know of a number of ways that can provide hydrogen to a fuel cell. One way is to simply put hydrogen gas and also air into the fuel cell itself. In order to carry hydrogen gas like this, it needs to be compressed. This is usually to about 3000 lbs per square inch. In order to do this, special containers need to be used.

Another way of providing hydrogen gas is to hold it on the car in the form of a liquid. In order to create hydrogen it needs to be made cold and also compressed. Hydrogen in liquid form is VERY cold. It is around 423 degrees below zero. The containers that hold this freezing cold liquid need to be well insulated and kept very safe. By warming up the liquid, or even lowering the pressure, you can release the gas into a fuel cell which will be able to power the vehicle that it is in.

Another very popular method of getting hydrogen to a fuel cell is using a reformer. A reformer is a device that can take out the hydrogen from hydrocarbon fuels. These are methanol or gasoline. When something other than hydrogen is used, the fuel cell is no longer zero-emission but it still may have extremely low emissions.

It is common to hear people talking about how fuel cell vehicles could be the future. What people don’t know is how far away we are from making these reasonably priced. High class families would have trouble affording these vehicles.

Posted: May 11th, 2009
at 8:33pm by Fuel Saver

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