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Hydrogen Powered Cars Essay

812 words - 3 pages

For years people have looked for alternatives to oil for our cars. Oil is a non renewable resource, and we will run out of it. There has to be an alternative power source available when we do run out. Hydrogen power is one option. It is a car that uses non-pollution gas. The exhaust from a hydrogen powered car is so clean that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley actually drank it. A Ballard bus was in Chicago last September for the announcement of the Chicago Transit Authority's pilot program. City officials were taken for a ride on the bus and then a glass was placed under the tailpipe to collect the liquid dripping out the end.The glass was then handed to Mayor Daley who lifted it to his lips and took a sip. "It's not bad," the mayor announced. Unlike a electric car that uses batteries to store its power, hydrogen takes heavy duty tanks that have to be pumped to an extremely high P.S.I. to go for a long time. Utilizing space technology, the hydrogen car doesn't rely on combustion. And it has hardly any moving parts. Hydrogen--an odorless, colorless gas--is the lightest and simplest of all the elements in the universe. A hydrogen atom has a nucleus containing a single proton that is circled by a single electron. (An atom of uranium has a nucleus with 92 protons and 146 neutrons, surrounded by 7 shells containing 92 electrons.) Hydrogen is also highly volatile and flammable. It has been used to power rocket engines and make devastating bombs. But it is not the combustible nature of hydrogen that the fuel cell harnesses. Rather, it is a basic electrochemical reaction that scientists have understood for more than 150 years. Electricity can be used to split water molecules into their basic components--hydrogen and oxygen. This process of running electricity through a solution to separate materials is called electrolysis. In 1839, Sir William Grove demonstrated that if electrolysis was "run in reverse"--that is, if hydrogen and oxygen were combined to make water--the process would release electricity. This is what a fuel cell does. The hydrogen fuel is fed into one end of the cell, where it comes in contact with a platinum plate. The platinum acts as a catalyst that helps break down hydrogen atoms into positively charged ions and negatively...

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