Fuel Cell Vehicle

This vehicle which creates combustible hydrogen, oxygen and hydronium gases
from water via electrolysis and burns these gases in an ICE. Electrolysis is currently
very inefficient, but this sort of vehicle is a very clean alternative vehicle. From a
saftey standpoint, these vehicles are unbeatable in the event of a fire because
their "gas tank" is full of pure water. The problem with mass producing FCVs is the
platinum plates would most likely be prohibitively expensive. Most of the American
public is not open to buying alternative energy vehicles, and the minute most
people think of a hydrogen powered vehicle, they think of a Hindenberg style
explosion associated with getting in a wreck even though they are actually very safe.

The confusion arises from another vehicle also called a fuel cell vehicle that is dangerous.
The dangerous FCV is any vehicle which stores hydrogen gas in storage tanks and converts
hydrogen and oxygen gases back to water by reverse electrolysis. In the reverse
electrolysis reaction, electricity is actually created and is harnessed by an electric motor.
This type of FCV is very efficient, but because it does carry high quantities of explosive
hydrogen gas, it is undesirable due to safety conflicts.

There is only one part which differs so much on a safe FCV from a regular automobile.
The electrolysis tank is not rocket science to understand if you understand
electrolysis. Water is made of 2 hydrogen atoms which have a net charge of +2
and 1 oxygen atom which has a net charge of -2. When a strong electrolyte such
as potassium hydroxide is mixed in with the pure water to a certain concentration,
the electrical current running through the water can pull the water molecules apart
into their elements. Since hydrogen and oxygen are both diatomic (they always
form like pairs), they immediately form into H2 and O2. A very Small portion of
water forms hydronium gas (H3O) in electrolysis. In order to get the most efficient
electrolysis, plates must be spaced a specific distance from one another. A typical
fuel cell may have 15 plates, the outer plates being the cathodes (- charge) and
the middle plate, the anode (+ charge). The plates in between the anode and
cathodes are not charged, but they create gas as well from the electrical current
that runs through them towards the anode. The anode attracts O2 because of its
opposite charge as does the cathode attract H2 for the same reason. Creating an
efficient electrolysis tank is difficult because the water must have a higher
concentration of electrolyte to produce higher quantities of gas. The electrolytes
are corrosive enough on their own, but especially when large quantities of gas are
made, the anode is heavily bombarded with oxygen gas molecules and it can quickly
degrade. The cathodes do not suffer nearly as badly as the anode because of the
fact hydrogen atoms have a sixteenth the mass of an oxygen atom. When the high
heat of electrolysis is factored in with the corrosiveness of the electrolyte and the
heavy bombardment the anode plate must withstand, the promise of free energy
from fuel cells is really put into reality. In order for the anode plate to withstand its
load for extended periods of time, it must be made of a noble metal like platinum.
A high grade of stainless steel such as 316L will suffice for the cathodes, but this
grade of stainless is not cheap either.

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The gas from a fuel cell- oxygen, hydrogen, and trace amounts of hydronium- are
very clean burning. They contain no carbon and they produce only water when
they are burned. They can increase engine life due to the fact there are absolutely
zero carbon deposits in a FCV engine to shorten the engine life. The production of
hydronium creates a slight ineffeciency because hydronium implodes while oxygen
and hydrogen explode. In effect, the hydronium slightly cancels the force of
explosion from the oxygen and hydrogen gases. This inefficiency is so slight though
compared to the inefficiency of electrolysis itself, it really doesn't matter much.
However in conclusion, for how clean FCVs operate, it can very reasonably be
argued that the benefits to the environment may far outweigh the costs associated
with the current inefficiencies of FCVs in the future.

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