Science Questions

Would hyrodgen powered cars help the environment?

Sun, 20th Jan 2008

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Question

Tyler asked:

I know that gasoline powered cars release harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere so I was wondering if any or all drivers switch to hydrogen powered cars would it make a difference to the climate, because hydrogen powered cars are going to release water when they burn hydrogen, react it with oxygen to make water? If so, what changes could that make?

Answer

We put this question to Chris Vivian from CEFAS...

First of all the hydrogen itself will come from splitting of water, using energy.  So the net effect for the hydrological cycle will be close to zero.  The more important aspect is how much energy you’re going to use to generate hydrogen itself and how that is generated.

So if you had, say wind power or nuclear power generating it so there’s no net carbon gain for taking the hydrogen out of water.

You may change where things are happening in the hydrological cycle but the net effect should be zero I would have thought.

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