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Liquid Hydrogen

Liquid hydrogen may be the fuel of the future helping us decrease our dependency on foreign oil and lowering all of the risks that go with that dependency. Although many of the hydrogen-powered cars that have been showcased lately have been run on compressed hydrogen, most technicians agree that running a car on liquid hydrogen would be more efficient, since liquid hydrogen would not be used up as rapidly in a tank as compressed hydrogen.


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There are a few kinks that need to be ironed out before liquid hydrogen-powered vehicles can start being mass-produced. For one thing, fuel tanks for liquid hydrogen will have to be much larger than gas tanks due to hydrogen's low density, plus the tanks will need to be super-cooled and insulated due to liquid hydrogen's low boiling point. This brings up the issue of increased tank size and weight, which would mean changing present day hydrogen car designs to accommodate. There is no doubt, however, that engineers will be able to work this issue out in the near future. Cars have come a long way since the first one was built, and automobile engineering technology can rise to almost any task.

Since hydrogen is a clean-burning fuel, it makes sense to strive to use it as an alternative fuel to gasoline and oil. The only problem is that since not enough hydrogen is available for use in its natural form in nature, it has to be extracted from such sources as water or natural gas. This takes energy and therein lies the present problem.

Using fossil fuels to produce the energy to extract hydrogen cancels out the benefits that are the reason we want to use hydrogen in the first place. The one exception may be the present trend towards cleaner burning coal methods, which one day may make this fossil fuel an attractive energy producer. So what else can be done? Nuclear power is probably not the answer, since the political and perceptual problems associated with using nuclear power have never been sufficiently resolved.

The process for extracting hydrogen so that it can be turned into liquid hydrogen to run vehicles can be done using solar power, wind power, hydro-electric power or reforming methane or natural gas. Though solar and wind power can both be unstable sources due to changing weather conditions, hydro-electric power and reforming methane and natural gas could be fairly consistent.

No matter what the present barriers are to the widespread use of liquid hydrogen as an alternative, or even primary fuel source, there is no doubt that modern technology can tackle the problems and overcome them. Once hydrogen is established as one of our primary fuels, the benefits will begin to become abundantly clear in the form of cleaner air, less dependence on foreign oil, and a healthier environment and economy. That can't be all bad, can it?



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