Alternative fuel has been a hot topic for many years due to the concerns of availability and rising cost of oil. Pollution from currently used combustion engines has also played a key factor in urging scientists to research cleaner alternatives. Hydrogen fuel yields a number of positive factors, but it does have limitations. Though a clean alternative to oil, the common use of hydrogen fuel remains 10 to 20 years away.
With gasoline running around $3.40 a gallon, as of March 2011, the cost of hydrogen fuel is estimated to be at $2 or less a gallon. The problem, however, is a viable means of transport and a standardized way to store the hydrogen fuel. Whereas gasoline is simply placed into a tank, more precautions would be required for hydrogen fuel.
For a car to run on hydrogen fuel, a fuel cell stack must be placed in the car. This would operate similar to an electric motor in a hybrid vehicle. These fuel cell stacks create electricity from hydrogen. That electricity would then be transferred to the battery. These cells are run extensively on microchips and mini-computers. It is not likely that a home mechanic would be able to make any significant repairs on the engine of a hydrogen-fueled vehicle.
Since hydrogen fuel contains more energy than oil or gasoline, it is expected that hydrogen fuel could yield mileage efficiency numbers in the area of 70 miles per gallon. Though hydrogen is available in water, its more preferred form is in that of natural gas. The downside of this is that consumers would still be at the mercy of a fossil fuel.
Hydrogen fuel is one of the cleanest forms of fuel. The byproduct of hydrogen fuel is water. But we must look at all aspects in the manufacturing process and ask how safe and clean is it to manufacture the batteries and fuel cells for these vehicles to make certain that the goal of clean transportation is truly being met.
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