Hydrogen Not an Alternative Fuel Source

Essay by monkey350High School, 12th gradeB, February 2008

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The developed world is currently facing a crisis that has the potential to permanently change society’s way of life. Although many people prefer to live their lives oblivious to this problem, there is no escaping the fact that fossil fuels are a limited resource that is quickly being depleted. It will be a daunting challenge to find an alternative to this resource in order to continue a way of life currently dependant upon fossil fuels. Hydrogen is commonly referred to as the fuel alternative of the future; however, most people are unaware that it isn’t a solution at all. In fact, attempting to use hydrogen is not even a step in the right direction.

Many people falsely assume that since water contains two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen that it’s possible to simply get hydrogen from water. People also assume that since 70% of the earth is covered in water and that hydrogen will never be in short supply.

What they don’t realize is that in order to get energy from hydrogen, it must be solitary and not in a molecule such as water. Since hydrogen is not found naturally in any usable quantity on earth, it must be ripped out of molecules to get it by itself. In order to do this, a process called electrolysis is used to separate hydrogen atoms from water molecules (H2O). This process requires sending electricity through the water in order to rip the molecules apart and acquire the hydrogen. However, since the process only has an efficiency of 70%, the energy needed to carry out this procedure is far greater than the energy gathered from the hydrogen. Although it can be up to 20% more efficient to use methane (CH4) in place of water in the electrolysis process, methane is a finite...