Can Hydrogen Replace Gasoline?
Hydrogen is a high-energy gas, and it has the capability of mass destruction in the form of a bomb. In fact, the famous Hindenburg is a prime example of the immense negative possibilities that can come from the use of this infamous gas. However, engineers are putting their heads together to come up with a more positive use of the energy hydrogen holds. Currently, there are efforts being made to replace gasoline as a mainstream fuel for automobiles. If successful, there are numerous benefits consumers everywhere can take advantage of, but first there are some hindrances to overcome.
Methods of Producing Hydrogen
Hydrogen is surprisingly easy to produce. By using electricity, the bond between hydrogen and oxygen, water’s constituent elements, is broken. The result is separated gases. While hydrogen tends to carry with it a negative connotation, it is capable of being burned as an energy source with no negative impact on the environment.
To take this potential one step further, chemists from the University of Glasgow have reported that there is a new way of producing hydrogen, and it speeds up the process to make it 30 times as fast. With such advanced innovations, the potential for use as a fuel for vehicles is becoming increasingly possible. More can be read on the new process at this page.
Challenges of Implementation
Most would agree that the use of hydrogen sounds like a better option for the environment, and it could save consumers money as well. However, there are some challenges facing scientists that have kept hydrogen from replacing gasoline for now. Some of them include:
- Storage: While the energy to weight ratio has gasoline beat, the energy per volume is presenting an issue. The amount of hydrogen needed to supply the same amount of power as a tank of gas requires a lot of room to store.
- Financial issues: while continual innovations have brought down costs in recent years, the fact remains that it costs about twice as much to power a fuel cell vehicle than an internal combustion engine.
- Decreased durability: the current durability expectation for hydrogen powered vehicles is around 57,000 miles. While this is an improvement, it’s still no competition with their gasoline-powered counterparts.
- Public perception: change can be difficult to accept, and it will take time to convince the public that fuel cell vehicles offer the dependability and safety they can rely on.
For more information on the various challenges facing hydrogen use in vehicles, visit Fuel Economy.
Unique Challenge Facing Valve Designers
Numerous valves must be utilized in the making of a hydrogen-powered car. However, valve designers face a unique challenge in the fact that, with it’s incredible levels of potential energy, valves must possess the highest tolerance possible in order to safely contain it, as well as according chemical compatibility.
Aside from the valves on the vehicles themselves, there are also those needed for transport and storage. There are three primary environments that hydrogen valves and piping face including:
- Ambient temperature: this occurs from the point of manufacturing to the point of consumption
- Low-Temperature: This can be the most corrosive on valves and piping
- High-Temperature: This is another potentially damaging environment
As can be seen, these are real challenges that must be addressed as we delve deeper into the possibility of replacing gasoline as a mainstream fuel for automobiles.
Aside from the various challenges, hydrogen safety issues must be addressed and solved not only to provide a better public perception but also to decrease the risks associated with hydrogen use. For starters, hydrogen is an odorless and colorless gas, and this could become dangerous when leaks occur. Furthermore, hydrogen is highly flammable. At this source, readers can find statistics regarding fires at fueling stations resulting directly from hydrogen leaks.
A Viable Future Option
It’s clear that there are a variety of challenges that must be faced. However, there are dozens of brilliant minds facing them now. Once the kinks are worked out, consumers will be presented with the opportunity to take advantage of a cleaner, quieter, more convenient ride to and from the various places the busy day takes them.
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