Fossil Fuel Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emission Essay

1363 Words 6 Pages
Fuel cells powered by hydrogen represent the latest technology in the push to reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emission. The internal combustion engine’s design limitations have been pushed to their limits and fuel economy has been maxed out. While a shift in consumer preference to smaller and more fuel efficient automobiles would decrease consumption and emissions, the economic model alone will not prompt such a change. The hydrogen fuel cell’s new technology calls for a radical change in design approaches that will test the automakers that choose to mass-produce this technology. The hydrogen harvesting methods required to power the fuel cells have environmental challenges. Regardless of the challenges, the …show more content…
The push to design and develop different methods of propulsion for motor vehicles came only after petroleum solutions became exhausted. Emissions reduction policies and the rising price of oil forced automakers to pursue more fuel efficient vehicles and eventually alternatively fueled vehicles. While the hybrid electric vehicle and the plug-in electric car have proven to be more viable solutions in the near term, the need for hydrogen fuel cells will only increase.
The technology behind hydrogen fuel cells is rather unremarkable, however, the difficulties and dangers created by the fuel cells will require extraordinary engineering. Today’s fuel cells use the same reverse electrolysis phenomena that Grove’s battery did over a century ago (Lampton). Hydrogen is ionized and passed through a membrane that separates the electrons from the hydrogen ions. The electrons are formed into an electrical current while the hydrogen ions react with the oxygen in the air to form water vapor, the heat generated by the reaction typically boils the water (Lampton). The catalyst and membrane can be tweaked and optimized by engineers to improve the technology but the basic principle will remain the same.
Hydrogen fuel cells make up for the simplicity with a number of operational challenges facing applications in automobiles or other vehicles. A fuel cell costs between $50,000 and $100,000 and relies on a platinum catalyst
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