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Hydrogen cars? Good? Bad?

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#1 Nureek


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Posted 30 January 2003 - 05:19 AM

I've been hearing all this hype over the hydrogen cars, where they take oxygen and hydogen to make the car run and the exaust is water vaper.  Everyone is saying this is great for the enviroment, but no one has adressed my burning question:

If the output is water vapor, then what would introducing that much water vapor into our envirment do?  Cliament change?  More storms?  What?  Think if all the cars on the road emittied water vapor, that is a hell of alot of water vapor to add to the water cycle.  It's gotta do something! :crazy:  (i love that smiley).

So, has anyone heard any scientist address this issue yet?

#2 Godeskian


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Posted 30 January 2003 - 06:40 AM

I don't know, but i imagine it would depend ggreatly on how much vapor was being ejected.

heck, you could even make it all internal, so that water vapors aren't spewed out at all, but kep int he vehicle and unloaded when you 'refuel'

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#3 Jid


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Posted 30 January 2003 - 11:08 AM

Hmmm, well, Hydrogen fuel cells *do* exhaust  water vapour, but I'm not sure how much of an effect it would have on climate change, for several reasons:

Firstly, the amount isn't *too* huge, per vehicle, last I checked.  (i.e. a journey of a couple thousand km would produce enough water vapour, that if collected could provide a nice, pleasant bath)  Though, it is true, in aggragate, that everyone driving fuel cells *could* have a major amount of vapour production.

And secondly, is the issue of the source of the hydorgen and oxygen for refueling your shiny new Fuel Cell car.  I'm not sure exactly what the plan would be, but I assume it would be by electrolyzing water to produce the consituent gases.

So, while I could see that there might be the potential for increased rainfall or perhaps cloudyness, the earth would likely reach an equilibrium of sorts between water exhausted and water electrolyzed.

Of course, we won't *really* know what effect they might have until it happens.  (The problem with any climate model is that, as most scientists would agree, their results are at best, inconclusive when looked at as whole.  All anyone can really say is that there is *some* change going on.)

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#4 Delvo

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 05:43 PM

Oyf, I see posts on this forum as are prone to spontaneous mitosis as at Slipstream...

#5 Delvo

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 05:49 PM

Water is not the only possible source of hydrogen. There is, for example, some atmospheric hydrogen in the air, which might be collectable, and some ionic minerals, especially the non-edible salts. But the main practical source of hydrogen would be organic compounds. You know those diagrams of the shapes of organic molecules... well, they ignore hydrogen by convention, because scientists make them and look at them with the understanding that pretty much every available covalent bonding site is capped with hydrogen if it's not specified that something else is in the way. There's so much hydrogen in there that those images would look FURRY if it were shown; we actually have to get rid of it in order to make relatively pure carbon substances like aircraft carbon-fibers, artificial diamonds, and buckminster-fullerenes. Some hydrogen is moved, lost, or gained in almost every organic chemical reaction, and hydrogen is commonly used by life for storging/moving energy, just as these scientists are proposing to use in technology; for example, the amount of hydrogen on a lipid molecule is the defining difference between the saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats.

The most efficient way to gather hydrogen for fuel use will probably be from gases that gather at the top of sealed vats of special breeds of bacteria or algæ selected to produce lots of such gases (whether that will mean pure hydrogen gas or something like methane from which the hydrogen is subsequently removed). What would these organisms be fed? Sewage, byproducts of the food production industries, hospital waste, maybe eventually domestic kitchen waste, things like that; that's one of the nifty things about using hydrogen as a fuel. (It can even come from unburned fossil fuels...)

As with current carbon combustion technology, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles use atmospheric oxygen, not store their own supply, so you'd only need to get hydrogen fuel. Actually, one of the biggest technical challenges they face is the question of how to store the fuel long-term, and yet dispense it in controlled amounts at any time, in a container that won't leak it too badly and won't be too likely to burst if very high pressures are used (and the best pressure to use isn't yet determined either). There's also a question of whether you, when pulling up to a refueling station, would refill the tank(s) already in your car or turn in the empty one(s) for fresh new one(s).

As far as the waste water is concerned, I think current experimental research vehicles just let it out as vapor, but that's just because they're not researching what to do with it, and it will be a short-lived practice once these machines have a practical market presence. Water is a resource with its own value, and society and the marketplace won't take long to start putting simple condensers and tanks in the cars to put it to use. Remember, people who need distilled water are currently paying for it because it isn't readily available and must be produced from ordinary water, and these cars would produce enormous amounts of it. And even if you don't NEED distilled water, it's still more than good enough for ordinary municipal/industrial/domestic water uses. Also consider that many cities in this country are using water from wells that will go empty in the coming decades. Consider the impact it would have if people and businesses could substantially supplement their own water supplies, just by pumping out their vehicles' waste collectors into their own private on-site storage tanks... or if refueling stations collected customers' water from their cars while they refueled.

#6 QueenTiye


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Posted 30 January 2003 - 08:34 PM

Um... haven't done this in a very long while.. but um...


LOL!  YAY! Delvo's here!  Explaining stuff!   :love:  :laugh:


(Don't worry - I won't be that silly TOO often...  ;) )

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#7 Godeskian


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Posted 31 January 2003 - 03:23 AM

You can ust see it can't you

GO to get refueled, drive around, dump the exhaust fumes into your water tank that powers the toilet and your lawn hose, go get more fuel and continue driving.

Defy Gravity!

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#8 Shalamar


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Posted 31 January 2003 - 04:23 AM

Thank you Delvo and Jid  for those very clear explainations!!  I think that fuel cell vehicles are the future of transportation, and can't wait to get my hands on one.
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#9 Nureek


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Posted 03 February 2003 - 03:19 AM

(doh! I forgot I posted this. Man, I'm gonna hate to see what I'm like when I get old.)

Great explination Delvo.  You're just chocked full of usefull info!  :hehe:

I never thought about the catching the water and using it that way.  Interesting.  The only problem I would see it that the excess water could still enter the water cycle, either through absourtion through the ground, through waste from our bodies, etc, etc. It wouldn't have to be exhausted through the air to enter our ecosystem.

#10 Nick



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Posted 14 February 2003 - 01:33 PM

I don't think the water vapor will be a problem--the only pollutant here is heat.  Like Delvo said, No one's gunna gripe about a new source of pure distilled water in crowded cities . . . and as for heat as a pollutant . . . present vehicles generate far more heat in wasted energy from burning fossil fuels, plus all the lovely compounds they spew into the air.

I think the amount of heat and water generated with hydrogen cars will really only be a drop in the proverbial bucket.


#11 Gina


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Posted 18 February 2003 - 05:34 AM

Thanks Jid and Delvo for the explanations. I was a little confused. :)

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#12 Corwin


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Posted 19 February 2003 - 07:02 AM

I don't believe that anyone is this excess water/ climate problem discussion has mentioned one small fact.  (Okay, I'm pretty sure it's still a fact, but my memory may be playing tricks)

Current internal combustion engines primary exhaust products are:  WATER, then Carbon Dioxide, then  Carbon Monoxide.  but it's primarily water vapor...

So no, there won't be any more climate changes than there already are... if there are any... which is whole other can of worms...

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