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Hydrogen Fuel Cells:

A Dream or Reality?
Section 007
Andrew Scheidel
Emily Skaer
Elizabeth Golanski

The Obvious Energy Problem

Developing countries population continues to
grow along with their Per Capita GDP
The World currently derives 80% of its
Energy from fossil fuels
Believe it or not, fossil fuel will hit a
production peak in the VERY near future
Higher demand + lower supply =
1,000,000,000,000 which means
no more Escalades and Hummers

Animation of a petrochemical refinery

Currently the United States uses 45 % of oil for gasoline purposes

Economics Lesson
Crude oil prices are linked with inflation
(high oil = higher costs = prices raised in
order to offset higher cost = inflation.
Inflation leads to many problems like:
- Less purchasing power
- A decrease in consumer spending

The Solution!
Renewable and alternate forms of energy.
Wind, hydro, solar, tidal, geothermal, and
The forefront of hydrogen fuel development
relates to hydrogen utilization in automobiles
The Hydrogen Fuel Cell System utilizes
electrochemical energy yielding water as

First, How Does a Hydrogen Fuel

Cell Work?
Hydrogen Consists of 1 proton and 1 electron
orbiting that proton.

How Does a Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Hydrogen gas enters anode
At the same time oxygen enters cathode
Catalysts causes H to split
Protons go through the proton exchange
membrane and electrons go through circuit
to power motor
Protons, electrons, oxygen recombine to
form water

Moving on to the Benefits of

Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Experience with fuel cells already
Abundance of Hydrogen
-2/3 of the planet is water 2/3 of water is
Ensures more stable economy, the abundance
offers less energy cost fluctuation
Reduction of CO2 emissions
Only by-product is water

Benefits of Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Hydrogen manufacture can be
environmentally friendly
Lessons global warming
Reduction in health problems
Energy dependence on foreign nations is
Can be more efficient

Benefits of Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Very appealing to consumers
In fact, it is already becoming a reality in
TO THE LEFT shows 15 Hydrogen
stations in operation and 9 that are
planned in California

Now, the Other Side of the Story:

Problems with Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Hydrogen may be abundant in water on
Earth but it is not directly available like
Oxygen is
There are no hydrogen pipelines and there
are only 15 stations in the ENTIRE country
Very difficult to distribute
Very difficult to store
Very difficult to transport


= $$$$$

Problems with Hydrogen Fuel Cells

There are hydrogen reformers that convert
other fuels like gasoline to hydrogen
-These reformers emit pollution and still
use fossil fuels as fuel source
- Also reduce hydrogen efficiency
This problem cannot be ignored and leads
many to look toward other viable fuel
sources using similar technology

Solutions to the Problems

Many say there are too many problems with
this technology for it to be viable
Incentives for gas stations to start offering
hydrogen along with gasoline (subsidies, tax
To take care of transportation, reformers
should be located close to hydrogen fuel


Solutions to the Problems

New studies have show alternate fuels other
than hydrogen would be as efficient
-Methanol, propane, natural gas
Increase investment in research and
development.big time.
A methanol fueled
automobile developed
by Daimler Chrysler

Concluding Remarks
Supporters of hydrogen fuel cells are much too
optimistic and are having difficulty thinking
Opposition is too quick to dismiss this as actually
being a viable fuel source
These two groups need to begin working together
to solve the problems
-The government should act as a liaison
between the two in order to encourage

Concluding Remarks
There is not nearly enough being done now
Action must be taken immediately by all
groups in order to make this fuel source
viable and prevent the economic
implications previously mentioned
Must be a collaboration between,
government, universities, national research
laboratories etc. in order for this to be viable

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