Hydrogen, number one on the Periodic Table of elements, and the most common element on our planet Earth. It may come as a surprise to many, or maybe not at all, that hydrogen could be used as a form of fuel for things such as trucks and cars.
It is no new news that Hydrogen can be used as a fuel, since it has been on rockets as they are pushed out of orbit. Now all we have to do is figure out a way to be able to use it in our everyday lives. The good thing about Hydrogen is that it can be used in internal combustion engines like the ones we use today with our gasoline-powered cars. Hydrogen has a high amount of energy in its chemical bond, liquid Hydrogen boils at –252.77 degrees Celsius, and has a density of 70.99 g/l. Because of these characteristics, Hydrogen has the highest energy-to-weight-ratio of all fuels; one kilogram of Hydrogen has the same amount of energy as 2.8 kilograms of gasoline.
As of right now, gasoline is the main source of fuel for the transportation we use in the United States, and the world. Gasoline comes from petroleum that we mine from outside of our country and then have shipped back, and refined to make the clear substance we fill our cars with. Once in the system, the way it powers the vehicle is through the internal combustion engines all of our cars are equipped with. What the engine does is pretty simple once you think about it. It compresses a mixture of air and gasoline into a small and enclosed space, then ignites it, which releases energy for movement, but results in carbon dioxide as a by-product.
Hydrogen can be used in one of two ways. The first, the same way as you would use gasoline, in an internal combustion engine. The other would be in a fuel cell to produce electricity. When in a fuel cell, you would need both Hydrogen and Oxygen to form electricity, and it would work just like a battery. You would have two electrodes, an anode and a cathode that are separated by a membrane. The hydrogen would react to a catalyst on the electrode anode that in turn converts the Hydrogen gas into negatively charged electrons and positively charged ions. The electrons would flow out of the cell to be used as electrical energy and the ions would move through the electrolyte membrane to the cathode electrode where they would combine with oxygen to form water.
Gasoline is a fossil fuel, meaning that once we use all of what we have, there will be no more. Not only that, but when we use gasoline in internal combustion engines, it releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere wouldn’t really be a big issue, we have trees, and trees breathe in the harmful gas and release breathable oxygen. The only problem is that lately we have been cutting down many of our trees and at the same time producing carbon dioxide at rates the trees can’t keep up...