why no Hydrogen power?

If hydrogen is the most abundant element on earth why don't we use it to power our vehicles and other engines. The only emission is water.

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I think hydrogen cars should be used or adapted for those limited applications where an excess of hydrogen is presently available. You may to do so for a utility vehicle around an oil refinery for example. There the supply there would make concerns about hydrogen leaking through most tanks moot. There would be very little infrastructure to build and range, low power density and possibly even the danger of transferring hydrogen can all be effectively managed.

    It may also make some sense around a natural gas facility as using natural gas is the cheapest way to get hydrogen. But it would still be more efficient and cheaper to burn natural gas directly in a vehicle instead of accepting the efficiency losses of converting it to hydrogen first.

    But generally your answer is mostly contained in your question. Hydrogen wants to become water (and other compounds) so much so that we have no free hydrogen and lots of water. Energy can be locked within chemistry. Chemical reactions, including burning, tend to go from a higher state of energy (more potential) to a lessor state (less potential) unless some energy is added to get it to a higher state, (adding to the potential.) When we make free hydrogen we are adding to its potential and this requires energy. Some, but not all of that energy can be recovered when we burn it (or combine it with oxygen in a fuel cell to produce electricity.)

    Gasoline has 2673 times more energy than hydrogen at normal pressure and temperature.1 To compress hydrogen will increase the density but lower your return on investment as it costs energy and money to compress hydrogen. Storing hydrogen also presents a problem with leakage as it is a very small molecule. And then there are safety issues associated with storing a compressed highly flammable gas in a vehicle. There is a reason why you are not allowed to take propane tanks across many bridges and why trucks that carry compressed and flam able gasses are required to have special permits.

    The infrastructure does not currently exist for hydrogen. We have gas stations that could be a physical location for distribution but the equipment to make, deliver to stations, store at stations and distribute to vehicles would all require a huge investment. This investment would also add to the cost of the fuel.

    Source(s): 1 http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Ar3Gr... If you could go 30 miles on a gallon of gasoline you could travel (30 x 5280 = 158400) / 2673 = about 59 feet on a gallon on hydrogen (at standard temperature and pressure.)
  • 1 decade ago

    This is a problem that has been studied for many decades now. All water is hydrogen and oxygen, but you can not efficiently break that bond. Believe me, many have worked very diligently on the problem without success. The energy it takes to break the bond so you can use water as a "recyclable" fuel is so great that it is a loosing proposition.

    There are hydrogen powered fuel cell cars now. The problem is, where do we get the hydrogen?

    The cars are available, the fuel isn't.

    For now, it is obtained from petroleum. It isn't cheap so it gets subsidized, rather than taxed like gasoline. It still is not a practical fuel source. I hope the problems of supply get solved, but I doubt it will be done in the foreseeable future.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    The Japanese hydrogen car runs on hydrogen on demand. It does not have a large tank to store the hydrogen. It makes it just before it is used. When the car stops the car stops making the hydrogen. It's a lot safer than a car with a full tank of gasoline.

  • Tony R
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    You have to use energy to get the hydrogen. So first you burn the coal or whatever to make electricity to split hydrogen and then you run a car with it. Not real practical. It's not like there are just pools of hydrogen sitting around. I think it is so funny how global warming people say they have all the answers about alternative energy but then no one goes for it because of all the draw backs. I have been waiting for years for a change in the way we get our energy, hearing how it is just a few months away from being a reality. Then time passes and nothing happens and the say "Oh, we just have a few more advances to make before it is practical." Then more time passes and nothing. It is either to expensive or like I said, to many draw backs that people don't go for it.

    I don't think there is an answer. At least not for a very very long time. So get used to the co2 emmisions.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Hydrogen is not found in an uncombined state, it is found together with other elements. Most methods for obtaining hydrogen require a lot of energy. For example, water can be split into hydrogen and oxygen by using electricity, but it takes more energy to make that hydrogen than you can get by burning it. For practical purposes, using hydrogen to power a car means using coal-fired power plants to power the car, but with abysmally poor efficiency compared to electric cars.

    It is fairly easy to extract hydrogen from natural gas, but there is no reason to do so--natural gas will power cars just as easily as hydrogen will.

  • 1 decade ago

    Hydrogen is unstable on its own, it bonds very easily to oxygen to make water. In its elemental form it's rare on Earth, it combusts in air.

    In order to get the energy out, you need it in its elemental form. This means you have to put energy in to split it from something else, like methane or water. You have to put in more energy to split it than you get out from recombining it again (second law of thermodynamics - no process requiring work as an output is 100% efficient). Also, pure hydrogen is hard to store in sufficient densities, and it's expensive, requiring things like platinum catylists.

    That's why we currently don't use hydrogen power. Burning gas or storing energy in batteries is cheaper & easier.

  • 1 decade ago

    Here's a Japanese car that runs on hydrogen on demand that proves all the skeptics wrong.

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