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Friday, September 30, 2005

Hydrogen fuel cells

Especially since the recent rise of gas prices in the U. S., we are hearing more about alternative fuel types. Fuel cells are a possibility. President Bush has made a couple of speeches about them.

Is this type of fuel ideal? Maybe. Probably not.

One fact that must be borne in mind is that fuel cells depending on Hydrogen require energy to produce. There is little or no free Hydrogen available. The reactivity of Hydrogen is the reason why it is such an excellent fuel. Because it is so reactive, it's not often found by itself. Because of the laws of thermodynamics, it takes more energy to produce free Hydrogen than you can get from it when it is used. If that's true, why should anyone pursue this type of energy? Well, just because an energy source requires more energy to make than you get out of it isn't necessary a hindrance to using it. Batteries require more energy to make than you can get out of them, but I would hate to do without them. They are convenient. Fuel cells may be, too.

Some energy sources are, in a manner of speaking, there for the taking. These include wood and other biomass, coal, petroleum, natural gas, dams, wind, solar, and nuclear fission. Although it takes some energy to get them, the energy obtained is greater than the amount used to obtain. All of them have advantages and drawbacks, and, of course, there is only so much energy that can be obtained from each. All of them, used on a wide scale, affect the environment negatively in some way, except perhaps biomass. Nuclear fusion may eventually be developed as a reliable energy source. If so, it, too, will have advantages and drawbacks.

It is possible that we may find organisms that release free Hydrogen, or can develop some. If so, this would put Hydrogen fuel cells into the category of energy for the taking, I suppose.

It is true that fuel cells shouldn't directly produce lots of nasty by-products, so that's good, but producing the energy that is used to produce the fuel cells, be it hydroelectric, fossil fuel, nuclear, or some other source, will result in environmental degradation.

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God willing, I shall eventually post on fantastic literature again. I also plan to return to the matter of Intelligent Design soon.


Jose Zweifel said...

OMG! Thank you for this.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for reading.