Hydrogen-Fueled Vehicles: Practical, or Idealistic?

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Traditional ways of fueling vehicles, such as gasoline and diesel, are damaging to the environment placing public attention on less damaging methods of powering engines. The newest solution might be in hydrogen — one of the most abundantly available resources on the planet.

Resource sustainability is one of the biggest global challenges that is turning industry attention to hydrogen. You might be wondering what role hydrogen plays in sustainability. Well, it’s a good thing you stopped by!

What is Hydrogen?

Hydrogen is a chemical element that carries energy. It is colourless and odourless. It does not simply exist in nature and is produced by various compounds that contain it. There are a number of methods including biological processes, thermochemical processes, and electrolytic processes that can produce hydrogen.

So How Does it Translate to Powering Vehicles?

A fuel cell turns the chemical energy that is found in hydrogen into electricity. When combined with an electric motor, it prevails in efficiency over a general engine that runs on gasoline.

Apparently, hydrogen is being used in vehicles around the world. In Aberdeen, Scotland, there are tons of hydrogen fuel cell buses in operation

Hydrogen is a great fuel because it is high in energy and emits zero greenhouse gases. Let’s not forget that it’s sort of important for a number of industrial processes. When it combines with the atmosphere’s oxygen, it produces energy and water. This makes it a viable candidate for replacing standard fossil fuels as a source of energy in the transportation sector.

Hydrogen fuelled vehicles could have greater advantages that electric cars could never govern. In order for this to work, support from the transportation industry is crucial.

How it Would Work:

Researchers at ITQ have developed a way to separate gas. Sounds bizarre, but it’s backed by a whole lot of technology. Their research shows that it is possible to compress hydrogen from electricity and methane gas in a single step, while at the same time isolating CO2 and not releasing it in the air. This allows the hydrogen to be produced at high pressure in a distributed area, enabling its production in residential areas and gas stations.

It’s important to recognize that this isn’t the first time that hydrogen was hailed as an alternative to traditional fuels. It’s been addressed, acknowledged, and even championed. But it’s now regaining its leverage as governments realize the impacts of electric vehicles on sustainable futures. Government inquiries into the impacts of automotive emissions point to environmental degradation as a direct result of vehicle transport reliance.

Hydrogen can be produced infinitely from renewable resources and creates almost no pollution. Emissions from gasoline and diesel leave hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides in the air. Conversely, hydrogen powered electric cars emit water and warm air.

Hydrogen can be completely green if it is produced using green sources such as wind or solar. It’s unlike many elements in that it is non-toxic, non-invasive, and is renewable.

Could Cars Really “Go Green?”

The problem might be that countries are not ready to embrace complete divergence from traditional fuelling methods. Imagine gas stations completely green and electric vehicles dominating roads. It almost seems unreal and perhaps too futuristic. For now, it seems like we’re more comfortable talking about hydrogen-fuelling possibilities than implementing them.

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About Author

Nadia Zaidi

Nadia Zaidi is a freelance multimedia journalist whose work is featured in several print and digital publications. She previously developed and hosted a show on youth issues for community television, and produces short-documentaries for public outreach. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism from Ryerson University.

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