This sounds like a really great idea doesn’t it? Here we have a car that tops out at 100 mph and travels up to 270 miles on a tank of compressed hydrogen…that through a chemical reaction releases nothing but water vapor through the tail pipe.
Is it that simple? Well Hydrogen(H) just so happens to be the most abundant gas on Earth in the Universe. However it is usually combined with so many other molecules, which makes it difficult to isolate the H atom all on its own. After all oxygen is attached to two hydrogen atoms to make the water compound…H20, as humans we are not designed to extract the oxygen from that compound. The government has sponsored millions of dollars to support fuel cell technology in recent years. So too has the auto industry’s own Research and Development sectors put in time to develop the “so called” clean energy for cars. Honda has developed the Honda Energy Station 3…designed to be hooked up and installed to your natural gas line at home which converts and delivers one full tank of hydrogen everyday for fuel cell consumption. The molecular compound for natural gas is CH4.
How is this making the United Stated less reliant on fossil fuel and foreign imports?!? With natural disasters Hurricane Katrina and Rita, natural gas production hit an all time low causing plants to shutdown while a demand for natural gas has continued to increase. This has caused the United States to depend on the foreign import of Liquid Natural Gas…eliminating any chances of the US becoming energy self-sufficient in the short term.
In a report from Jose A. Villar from the Natural Gas division and Frederick L. Joutz from the Department of Economics the two state that “an increase in crude oil prices resulting from an increase in crude oil demand may lead to increased costs of natural gas production and development, putting upward pressure on natural gas prices.”(read their 43 page assessment: The Relationship between Crude Oil and Natural Gas Prices)
This statement says it all. With China’s increase in demand for oil, the scarcity of it can drive demand and prices through the roof. Prices of natural gas are bound to remain high and get higher. This solution of “clean” energy is not going to be able to lead this country out of its energy crisis in which it currently resides in. I am all for fuel cell technology, extracting hydrogen from CH4 is a bad idea which only keeps America in a never ending cycle of imports. Solutions can be developed to extract hydrogen from H20 if more funding went to serving that path instead…it only serves me to think that the powers that be had purposefully created this “solution” to keep them rich, and get them richer by forcing the United States to import fossil fuel source from countries like Canada.
At least for now people are still offered a way to be more efficient. Driving a hybrid or a fuel cell car derived from natural gas can help the situation and is a great transitional technology. This technology seems promising but still has major hurdles to overcome in this nasty energy market and infrastructure we have in place today.
Want to Learn more about Natural Gas…click here.