As Yogi Berra said, it is deja vu all over again. Prices for crude oil are skyrocketing through the roof. Experts worry about peak oil which is predicted to cause worldwide competition over limited supplies. Going back to the gas crisis of 1973, America has seen this coming. However, it hasn’t taken any concrete steps to move away from the addiction to dirty oil. Even when the solution exists with hydrogen fuel cell cars.
The negatives attached to our dependence on fossil fuels are well known. Emitting volumes of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere is contributing to the warming of the planet. Although there is debate within the expert community as to the extent and causation of this warming, it is universally recognized that it exists and can’t lead to anything good.
Some say our fate was sealed over half a century ago when President Eisenhower embarked upon a massive program of interstate highway construction. This resulted in today’s suburbia and its correlating requirements of personal vehicle use. If America had evolved differently into a more urban nature, then public transportation would be a viable alternative. This is obviously not the case for much of the country.
Depending upon our cars to get us to work and all other life’s activities, we have no choice but to guzzle billions of gallons of gas. Whereas technology in all other facets has evolved rapidly, we drive around in cars burning the same basic fuels they did generations ago. However, there are those seeking alternatives. Many claim they do exist.
One such alternative relates to a simple element. That element is hydrogen. It is a word often associated with power ranging from the sun to the hydrogen bomb. There is however, a far more tame and beneficial use for hydrogen power. When used efficiently via fuel cells, hydrogen can be the cure to our oil addiction.
There are several obstacles to the substitution of hydrogen for fossil fuels. The first has mostly been overcome. Production of a hydrogen powered car has been achieved in the development labs. Highly expensive, as most new technologies are, the price will come down over time with more efficient production techniques and volume sales. Remember how much you paid for that first beta max compared to today’s dvd player prices?
Widespread adoption would require places along the road to recharge the cells. We obviously are built out currently to support filling up our tanks with gas. How would we produce hydrogen and power the requisite process? There is much debate about this. Some point to the sun using solar panels to power the production of hydrogen at these new fill up stations. Others point to building out the nuclear power infrastructure to support this huge additional demand that would be presented by myriad hydrogen production stations.
There are many questions and several technological breakthroughs needed before we are all driving hydrogen fuel cell cars. However, the rising prices of gas may very well prove to be the impetus speeding up the adoption of fuel cells. Clean and potentially based on fully renewable sources like the sun, these cars could be the answers to all our prayers.