Hydrogen Cars by Dena Ventrudo

With all this talk about pollution, it can get overwhelming and we lose sight of what it is we can do, as an average person, to make a difference.

There are new technologies now that allow us to reduce CO2 and other pollutants while continuing our everyday routines to work or school. This new technology is fuel cells and cars that run on hydrogen.

These cars emit no greenhouse gases, just water vapor, and do not use a combustible engine. Instead they run on fuel cells. These fuel cells convert the hydrogen into electricity.

The advantages of hydrogen are huge: no more smog-forming exhaust gases, no more carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming, no more worries about diminishing oil supplies and rising prices.

The same amount of hydrogen will take a fuel cell car at least twice as far as one with a converted internal combustion engine.


BMW has made a hydrogen Mini Cooper:

The hydrogen-powered Mini concept was unveiled at the 2001 Frankfurt Motor Show. It runs solely on hydrogen and shows the potential for a virtually zero emissions vehicle which still offers an outstanding performance.

The BMW Clean Energy system involves liquid hydrogen produced from water using solar power. Hydrogen as a motor fuel is the answer to many environmental problems since there are no harmful emissions, no depleting of resources, and no danger to the atmosphere.

The result of their research is the new BMW 750hL hydrogen powered vehicle.

The heart of the 750hL is a hybrid, 12-cylinder combustion engine with two independent electronically controlled fuel induction systems. These systems allow the 750hL to run on either gasoline (petrol) or hydrogen. The 750hL has a hybrid 12-cylinder combustion engine capable of running on either gasoline or hydrogen. The 5.4-liter engine has two independent, electronically controlled fuel induction systems. The hydrogen engine offers excellent torque and acceleration, while the specially insulated 140-liter tank for the liquid hydrogen provides a range of 400 kilometers.

Electricity generated from solar power is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Oxygen is released into the atmosphere, while hydrogen is liquefied and stored at a very low temperature (-253 °C).

During internal combustion, the hydrogen combines with oxygen. The resulting energy powers the vehicle, while the hydrogen is returned to the environment as water. Harmful emissions are virtually eliminated.

By cooling hydrogen to -253 degrees Celsius, hydrogen is shrunk to a thousandth of its original volume. 70 layers of aluminum and fiberglass sheets between the exterior and interior vehicle walls insure that the liquid hydrogen remains at extremely low temperatures.

The car gets electricity from a newly developed fuel cell battery that converts hydrogen into electric current, and because it has several cells in series, it supplies enough power to keep the climate control running even when stationary.

Working with Shell Oil Company, BMW has developed a technology for dispensing hydrogen from a filling station’s pumps into a car’s fuel tanks. The world’s first fully automatic hydrogen filling station was opened in May 1999 at the Munich Airport.

In the market for a new car? Here are a few you can to add to your search…

Some cars on the market that use this technology or are considered “green” cars:

Honda Insight Honda Civic GX

Toyota Prius Honda Civic Hybrid

Toyota Corolla Hyundai Accent

Kia Rio Honda Civic

Mazda 3 Pontiac Vibe/ Toyota Matrix 3

Chevrolet Cobalt Saturn Ion

Some of the worst cars for pollution/global warming are:

Dodge Ram SRT10 Lamborghini Murcielago

Dodge Durango Dodge Ram 1500

Maybach 57S Hummer H24

Ferrari F141 Ford F-2504

GMC Yukon XL K25004 Volkswagen Touareg

Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

So you see, there are many ways that we, the average working person, can make a positive difference in our environment. Please take a look at some of the links I’ve provided and see if maybe you can take a step toward a cleaner, greener future! For more information on exactly how the technology works, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_car >

by Dena Ventrudo
Dena Ventrudo is the Assistant Editor of Merlian News. She is a published poet and creative writer. Dena volunteered as an environmentalist with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) for three years serving as a project leader, an intern, and a board representative. She is attending SUNY Purchase College and will be graduating in May 2006 with a BA in Liberal Studies.