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Thread: Hydrogen fuel cell - Student seeking answers

  1. #1 Hydrogen fuel cell - Student seeking answers 
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    Hello I am a student of Bullard High School of Fresno, California and I have been given an assignment to write a research paper. I have chosen to write it on hydrogen fuel cell power vehicles and one of the requirements is that at least one of my sources must be from a person.


    1. when do you think (if ever) when we will see fuel cells used for transportation purposes by the average citizen?

    2. How much power can be created from one of these fuel stacks in an average vehicle?

    3. Are there any possible negative affects of mass production and long term usage of hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles?


    any sort of help is appreciated even if you are not an expert on the topic. Thank you!


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  3. #2  
    Reptile Dysfunction drowsy turtle's Avatar
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    1) The very near future; fuel cell cars are already available in some areas, as is hydrogen fuel.

    2) The fuel cell creates an electric current, so by increasing the rate at which the fuel is used you could increase the power output; the maximum power will, then, depend on the catalyst and the rate at which the fuel can enter the engine. (I don't know)

    3) None that I can see, unless you think that giving everyone access to hydrogen may be a problem, e.g. for use in weapons, but hydrogen is fairly easy to produce already, so I doubt that will matter too much.


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    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    There are significant issues with the mass production of hydrogen. Most of current production comes from reforming of fossil fuels, with carbon dioxide as a by product. If it's produced instead by electrolysis of water, then you need to generate large quantities of electricity, which today means burning lots of coal. Wind and solar generators seem to be a logical way to produce electricity for electrolysis, but we're a long way from having the necessary capacity or infrastructure. An alternative to storing hydrogen on board the vehicle is to store a liquid fuel such as methanol and convert it to hydrogen usng an on-board reformer, but it seems to me the overall efficiency has got to be lower than using bulk-manufactured hydrogen.

    The highest efficiency is obtained with pure electric vehicles, i.e. batteries. However you are back to burning lots of coal. In an overall cradle-to-grave analysis it might be that hybrid cars are the best bet.

    one of my sources must be from a person
    I am a person (not a turtle). 8)
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    Reptile Dysfunction drowsy turtle's Avatar
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    Racist!

    hehe

    I don't particularly see the use of fossil fuels as a problem, because I don't buy into global warming. But other than that, hydrogen could be produced by electrolysis using all 'excess' energy from the national grid, so basically we are keeping the energy where we would ordinarily lose it. Another idea is using solar panels in remote desert areas to electrolyse water into hydrogen and oxygen. The main problem with placing solar panels in these areas has always been moving the energy to where it can be used, so this handily solves two problems.

    There is no shortage of ideas for how to produce renewable hydrogen.
    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." ~ Douglas Adams
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    Forum Ph.D. Leszek Luchowski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drowsy turtle
    Racist!
    You mean speciest.

    Quote Originally Posted by drowsy turtle
    Another idea is using solar panels in remote desert areas to electrolyse water into hydrogen and oxygen. The main problem with placing solar panels in these areas has always been moving the energy to where it can be used, so this handily solves two problems.
    Are you saying that hydrogen pipelines (plus water pipelines to bring water to the desert areas) are cheaper to build than electric power lines? I'm not saying they aren't, just wondering, as usual...
    Leszek. Pronounced [LEH-sheck]. The wondering Slav.
    History teaches us that we don't learn from history.
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    Reptile Dysfunction drowsy turtle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leszek Luchowski
    Quote Originally Posted by drowsy turtle
    Another idea is using solar panels in remote desert areas to electrolyse water into hydrogen and oxygen. The main problem with placing solar panels in these areas has always been moving the energy to where it can be used, so this handily solves two problems.
    Are you saying that hydrogen pipelines (plus water pipelines to bring water to the desert areas) are cheaper to build than electric power lines? I'm not saying they aren't, just wondering, as usual...
    I wouldn't build pipes at all. I was thinking of storing it in a tank, to be collected at regular intervals.

    But a pipeline could work, too, especially with a government grant.
    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." ~ Douglas Adams
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    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drowsy turtle
    Racist!

    hehe

    I don't particularly see the use of fossil fuels as a problem, because I don't buy into global warming.
    I disagree, but this isn't a global warming thread so...


    But other than that, hydrogen could be produced by electrolysis using all 'excess' energy from the national grid, so basically we are keeping the energy where we would ordinarily lose it.
    Not really. There is no excess energy in the grid. Conventional coal fired power stations reduce output at night. If there is new off-peak demand we will simply burn more coal at night to meet the electrolysis demand. This adds to the global warming problem (which you don't believe in so it won't bother you, but it bothers me a lot).

    There is no shortage of ideas for how to produce renewable hydrogen.
    Ideas are one thing. Always look at who is selling the idea.
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    Reptile Dysfunction drowsy turtle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    But other than that, hydrogen could be produced by electrolysis using all 'excess' energy from the national grid, so basically we are keeping the energy where we would ordinarily lose it.
    Not really. There is no excess energy in the grid. Conventional coal fired power stations reduce output at night. If there is new off-peak demand we will simply burn more coal at night to meet the electrolysis demand. This adds to the global warming problem (which you don't believe in so it won't bother you, but it bothers me a lot).
    There is always some excess. I am not suggesting we could run every car in the world off it, but every little helps.

    Just because I don't buy into global warming doesn't mean I don't think burning fossil fuels is a problem, and then of course they are invariably running out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    There is no shortage of ideas for how to produce renewable hydrogen.
    Ideas are one thing. Always look at who is selling the idea.
    A fair emount of the ideas I'm referring to are my own. Doubtless, someone else has thought of it, but still...
    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." ~ Douglas Adams
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    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    There is always some excess. I am not suggesting we could run every car in the world off it, but every little helps.
    There is excess generating capacity. There is not excess power in the grid. It is turned off or turned down to match demand. The ones that are turned off are the least efficient (therefore most polluting) ones, so if you keep them operating to satisfy electrolysis (or to recharge battery powered cars) at night the net result will be an increase in pollution and fossil fuel usage.

    A fair emount of the ideas I'm referring to are my own. Doubtless, someone else has thought of it, but still...
    Well, yes, someone else has thought of it - and has actually done some detailed analysis.
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  11. #10  
    Reptile Dysfunction drowsy turtle's Avatar
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    note: the ideas I refer to are not the ones I posted.
    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." ~ Douglas Adams
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