Article by Peter Verhoeff
At the November 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show, Honda unveiled its new biofriendly FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle (FCV). Honda plans to lease a limited number of them in the summer of 2008. First developed in 1999, the 2008 model has many improvements, such as a 30% increase in driving range and a 25% increase in power-to-weight ratio. (1)What makes FCVs attractive, compared to gasoline-powered cars, is that fuel cells use hydrogen as a fuel to produce electric power, with pure water as the only byproduct. This makes the FCV a perfect zero-emission vehicle, emitting no greenhouse gases or air pollution whatsoever. Other advantages include reduced dependence on fossil fuels, better energy efficiency and greater design flexibility.
Typically, an FCV has an on-board tank of hydrogen gas, while the needed oxygen is drawn from the surrounding air. In â€œburningâ€ the hydrogen, the fuel cell produces electricity that powers one or more electric motors to drive the wheels.
Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical element in the universe. Unfortunately, most of it is combined with other elements, as with oxygen to form water, or with carbon to form organic compounds, such as coal, oil and natural gas. Hydrogen can be extracted from water, using a process called electrolysis, but this method uses electricity. As power stations generally use fossil fuels, this makes electrolysis a less than optimum solution.
National Geographic magazine mentions a different method of generating hydrogen. Researchers Logan and Cheng of Penn State University were able to extract 99% of available hydrogen from organic materials using bacteria. This new method of extracting hydrogen is not yet commercially viable, but is promising as it does not require much energy to produce the fuel, giving it a distinct advantage over ethanol and other biofuels. (2)
If the challenges of cost, fuel distribution and delivery can be overcome, fuel cell vehicles promise to become a way to combat energy dependence, fossil fuel depletion, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. However, while most vehicles are still gasoline-powered, and will be for some time, it is important to make more efficient use of what fuel we have. This will buy time for the needed research and establishment of better energy solutions.
For that purpose, Biofriendly Corporation has created Green PlusÂ®, a liquid fuel catalyst that causes more complete burning, resulting in fewer harmful emissions and better fuel economy.
About the Author
Author, Peter Verhoeff, contributes articles on environmental issues for Biofriendly Corporation. More information on these and other topics can be found on the Biofriendly site.