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Author Topic: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?  (Read 48162 times)

Offline Dick1038

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #25 on: 13/12/2007 18:08:59 »
The liquid hydrogen compound I was referring to was not a hydrocarbon.  I don't recall where I read the article on this technology.  I'll have to do a literature search. Stay tuned.
 

Offline Dick1038

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #26 on: 13/12/2007 18:19:11 »
Eureka!

Science news, Oct 20, 2007, Vol 172, #16, p253.

Platinum free fuel cell

Davide Castelvecchi

Many obstacles stand in the way of ditching the internal combustion engine in favor of electric motors feeding off hydrogen fuel cells. Such a change would require new infrastructure for the delivery, storage, and distribution of hydrogen, either in a low-temperature, liquid state, or at high pressure, as a room-temperature gas. And standard hydrogen fuel cells are expensive, requiring as much as 100 grams of platinum at a cost of thousands of dollars.

A new type of fuel cell could solve both problems at once. The technology, proposed by engineers at Daihatsu, a unit of Toyota, in Ryuo, Japan, uses a fuel called hydrazine hydrate, instead of hydrogen.

Hydrazine hydrate—a compound of nitrogen, hydrogen, and water—is liquid, which makes it easier to store and deliver than gas. And it contains no carbon, so cars using it would still be environment-friendly. But perhaps the main advantage of the new fuel cell is simply that it's cheaper.

In hydrogen fuel cells, platinum serves as a catalyst membrane that breaks down hydrogen molecules into ions and electrons. The electrons provide the current that powers the car's motor. Platinum is used because it's the only metal catalyst that can survive corrosion by hydrogen ions for any length of time.

But the membrane in the Daihatsu fuel cell has to cope only with more-benign hydroxide ions, allowing engineers to use cheaper catalysts such as cobalt or nickel.

"We believe that this technology has the potential of bringing the cost of a fuel cell vehicle [down to] that of an internal combustion-engine vehicle," says team member Koji Yamada. His team's results appear in the Oct. 22 issue of Angewandte Chemie.

Caveat

Letters:

This article describes hydrazine hydrate as a benign and cost-effective alternative fuel to hydrogen. But hydrazine hydrate is a fuming liquid that is toxic, very corrosive, and can decompose explosively. In a reaction with hydrogen peroxide, it powered the German V-2 rockets in World War II.

Carl F. Guerci Jr.
Severna Park, Md.

Here's the link: http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20071020/note11.asp
 

another_someone

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #27 on: 13/12/2007 23:30:12 »
My own concerns on reading the article was, to some extent, the same that the letter writer has, that hydrazine is not that safe a material to handle.

Nonetheless, I think the letter writer is not totally accurate (although neither totally inaccurate).

Hydrazine is both toxic and corrosive, that is true.

Hydrazine is used in rocketry, but was not used in the V-2 (that used alcohol and LOX), and was used during WWII to power the Me 163 B and the launch system of the V-1.

Hydrazine does not seem to be particularly volatile, and in hydrate form is far safer than in anhydrous form, but there is no getting over its toxicity.

Hydrazine is widely used in fuel systems, and in industry, so clearly any handling problems can be well managed; but whether it is desirable to have it widely available to the public is another matter.

I can well see why it would be a preferred fuel for fuel cells over gaseous hydrogen, although its energy density seems to be less than half that of many hydrocarbons.
« Last Edit: 13/12/2007 23:34:55 by another_someone »
 

Offline Sjoeberg

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #28 on: 14/12/2007 10:51:01 »
Quote
Hydrazine hydrate—a compound of nitrogen, hydrogen, and water—is liquid, which makes it easier to store and deliver than gas. And it contains no carbon, so cars using it would still be environment-friendly. But perhaps the main advantage of the new fuel cell is simply that it's cheaper.

Very interesting... perhaps this is a breakthrough, though I am as concerned as another_someone about the toxicity. Does any one know how toxic it is? I mean, petrol is, to some extend, also toxic, so the interesting part in this, is if hydrazine hydrate is easily absorbed by human tissue (skin)?

Also another concern is the products of the reaction. I see that the reaction is not producing any carbon containing products, but what about nitrous oxides (NOx's). Would they need a DeNOx-system possibly containing liquid ammonia?
 

Offline Dick1038

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #29 on: 14/12/2007 22:17:47 »
A quick googling of hyrazine hydrate yielded:

 
Safety data for hydrazine hydrate
Hazard: Toxic Hazard: Toxic in the environment Hazard: explosive

Glossary of terms on this data sheet.

The information on this web page is provided to help you to work safely, but it is intended to be an overview of hazards, not a replacement for a full Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). MSDS forms can be downloaded from the web sites of many chemical suppliers.
General

      Synonyms: hydrazine monohydrate, diamide hydrate, aqueous hydrazine, hydrazine hydroxide, hydrazinium hydroxide
      Use:
      Molecular formula: N2H4.H2O
      CAS No: 7803-57-8 (alternative CAS No: 10217-52-4)
      EC No: 206-114-9
      Annex I Index No: 007-008-00-3

Physical data

      Appearance: colourless fuming liquid
      Melting point: -52 C
      Boiling point: 120 - 121 C
      Vapour density:
      Vapour pressure: 5.2 mm Hg at 20 C
      Density (g cm-3): 1.027
      Flash point: 74 C (closed cup)
      Explosion limits: 3.4 - 100%
      Autoignition temperature: 280 C
      Water solubility: miscible
       

Stability

      Incompatible with a wide variety of materials, including oxidizing agents, heavy metal oxides, dehydrating agents, alkali metals, rust, silver salts. Combustible. Contact with many materials may cause fire or explosive decomposition. May react explosively with a variety of materials, including dehydrating agents, heavy metal oxides, perchlorates. Contact with cadmium, gold, brass, molybdenum and stainless steel containing > 0.5% molybdenum may cause rapid decomposition. Vapour may explode in fire. Note the exceptionally wide explosive limits - flammable from 4 to 100% hydrazine in air. Read safety data sheet fully before use.

Toxicology

      Toxic, and may be fatal, if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin. Expected to be a human carcinogen. Eye contact may cause serious damage. May cause CNS, eye, liver, kidney and lung damage. Possible sensitizer. Corrosive. Material is very irritating to respiratory tract, even at low concentrations. Typical OEL 0.02 ppm (8h TWA)

      Toxicity data
      (The meaning of any abbreviations which appear in this section is given here.)
      ORL-RAT LD50 129 mg kg-1
      ORL-MUS LD50 83 mg kg-1
      SKN-RBT LDLO 20 mg kg-1
      IHL-RAT LC50 0.75 mg/l/4h
      ORL-GPG LD50 40 mg kg-1

      Risk phrases
      (The meaning of any risk phrases which appear in this section is given here.)
      R10 R23 R24 R25 R34 R43 R45 R50 R53.

Environmental information

      Very toxic to aquatic organisms - may cause long-term harm.

Transport information

      (The meaning of any UN hazard codes which appear in this section is given here.)
      IATA packing group 2. IATA sub-risk 61. Adr No 8/44B. UN No 2030. IATA class 8. Transport category 2. Not permitted on passenger flights.

Personal protection

      Safety glasses, gloves, good ventilation. Treat as a possible carcinogen. Remove all sources of ignition from the working area. Prepare a risk assessment and COSHH statement before starting work.

      Safety phrases
      (The meaning of any safety phrases which appear in this section is given here.)
      S45 S53 S60 S61.

[Return to Physical & Theoretical Chemistry Lab. Safety home page.]

This information was last updated on July 3, 2007. We have tried to make it as accurate and useful as possible, but can take no responsibility for its use, misuse, or accuracy. We have not verified this information, and cannot guarantee that it is up-to-date.

Note also that the information on the PTCL Safety web site, where this page was hosted, has been copied onto many other sites, often without permission. If you have any doubts about the veracity of the information that you are viewing, or have any queries, please check the URL that your web browser displays for this page. If the URL begins "http://ptcl.chem.ox.ac.uk/" or "http://physchem.ox.ac.uk/" the page is maintained by the Safety Officer in Physical Chemistry at Oxford University. If not, this page is a copy made by some other person and we have no responsibility for it.

Might as well kiss-off this material.


 

Offline Dick1038

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #30 on: 14/12/2007 22:55:06 »
How about using ammonia? A brilliant chemist could invent a catalyst to decompose ammonia into nitrogen and hydrogen. 

Also, ammonia can be used as a fuel in internal combustion engines:
Ammonia was used during World War II fuel shortages to power buses in Belgium and used in engine and solar energy applications prior to 1900. Liquid ammonia was used as the fuel of the rocket airplane, the X-15. Although not as powerful as other fuels, it left no soot in the reusable rocket engine and its density approximately matches that for the oxidizer, liquid oxygen, which simplified the aircraft's design. Ammonia is proposed as a practical, clean (CO2-free), alternative to fossil fuel for internal combustion engines.[19] In 1981 a Canadian company converted a 1981 Chevrolet Impala to operate using ammonia as fuel.[20][21] Ammonia is marketed as a low-emission fuel.[22]

How about using urea as fuel?  That way one could just piss into the fuel tank in a bind :) .
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #31 on: 15/12/2007 19:03:52 »
"A brilliant chemist could invent a catalyst to decompose ammonia into nitrogen and hydrogen."
One did
http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1918/haber-bio.html
Catalysts work both ways.

While ammonia is a lot less nasty than hydrazine I'd still not really want a tank of it in my car.
 

sooyeah

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #32 on: 29/12/2007 13:19:39 »
I don't really get the it takes energy to produce it arguement, it takes a huge amount of energy to produce petrol surely.

As SJoeberg has mentioned, it is all about how much you spend for how much you get.

Think of energy as money (very much, energy is the currency of science).

If you spend £1 million, and get £2 millions back, you are in profit, and it is a good deal.  If you spend £1 millions pounds, and get only £1 million back, you have achieved nothing, and by the time you have paid your brokers commission (because all real life processes have inefficiencies that lose energy beyond the theoretical ideal), you will actually have made a small loss - certainly not the kind of deal you want to make.

Yes, it does take a huge amount of energy you have to put in when processing petrol; but in that particular case, the amount you get back exceeds what you put in, so you are in profit.

Well, just a minute, the costs of petrol are not just in its production.
You also have the added cost of the pollution it causes, wars, oil spillages, damage to health.... but also the profit of an energy in money terms is something you add. It cost £20 to make it, you then sell it for £25 the price reflects the profit added plus the cost of production.
 
 

Offline drewsk404

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #33 on: 24/04/2008 22:59:16 »
Hi all, been reading this forum for a while. Decided to register and post.

I have been reading a lot about hydrogen electrolysis and maybe some people here could provide some additional input. I have plans to build a gas-saving device for my car.

This device supposedly injects hydrogen into the vehicle's intake manifold in order to allow for a decrease of gasoline consumption on some level or another. It does this by allowing the engine to burn hydrogen in the combustion chamber along with the existing gasoline and oxygen mixture. Supposedly, doing so will allow an engine to run at a max of 30:1 air/fuel ratio (hydrogen being included in the air part of the ratio). That's pretty lean. Supposedly it can double gas mileage. It's just an electrolysis device that creates hydrogen ions from water. I'm not exactly sure how much hydrogen must be electrolyzed, how existing fuel management must be modified, or how much energy it would take to do so, so have not been able to figure out if the task would be worthwhile. There are claims that it does work, such as this: newbielink:http://waterpoweredcar.com/hydrobooster.html [nonactive]

What do you think?
 

another_someone

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #34 on: 25/04/2008 02:58:57 »
Hi all, been reading this forum for a while. Decided to register and post.

I have been reading a lot about hydrogen electrolysis and maybe some people here could provide some additional input. I have plans to build a gas-saving device for my car.

This device supposedly injects hydrogen into the vehicle's intake manifold in order to allow for a decrease of gasoline consumption on some level or another. It does this by allowing the engine to burn hydrogen in the combustion chamber along with the existing gasoline and oxygen mixture. Supposedly, doing so will allow an engine to run at a max of 30:1 air/fuel ratio (hydrogen being included in the air part of the ratio). That's pretty lean. Supposedly it can double gas mileage. It's just an electrolysis device that creates hydrogen ions from water. I'm not exactly sure how much hydrogen must be electrolyzed, how existing fuel management must be modified, or how much energy it would take to do so, so have not been able to figure out if the task would be worthwhile. There are claims that it does work, such as this: http://waterpoweredcar.com/hydrobooster.html

What do you think?

First issue I have is that it claims to reduce the temperature of combustion.  This alone should reduce, not increase, the efficiency of the engine, and could totally invalidate the functioning of the catalytic converter on your car.

If there was any substantial amounts of hydrogen premixed with the incoming air, I would think it could be quite dangerous; which leaves me to believe the amounts of hydrogen injected are minimal (which would be consistent with the fact you don't need a large water tank to feed it).

There have been products in the past that have simply injected water into the combustion chamber as a means of increasing the expansion available during combustion, but this does not require electrolysis.  On the other hand, such crude techniques that might have worked with the relatively crude engines of a few decades ago could easily cause adverse effects (and even damage) to more modern engines.
 

Offline drewsk404

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #35 on: 25/04/2008 04:37:40 »
i read something about it reducing the combustion temp. i wish i could remember more about what it said but i believe it was something along the lines that the fact that the air fuel ratio is so much leaner (leaner combustion is hotter) that it actually doesn't end up being cooler combustion. in fact this was one of the fuel management issues. you have to get the right mixture or you'll overheat the combustion chamber.

*edit* also based on my research i don't 100% trust the web page i listed. i should have mentioned that. i was just using it as an example though.
« Last Edit: 25/04/2008 04:43:16 by drewsk404 »
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #36 on: 25/04/2008 07:05:18 »
You don't need to worry about trying to store hydrogen in gas form, using pellets made of an alloy of aluminium and gallium, you can just store a tank of water in your car, and add the water to these pellets which reacts and turns the aluminium into aluminium oxide, and produces hydrogen. This way you get hydrogen on demand, without storing anything at high pressure. Then once you've exhausted your aluminium you get some more, and recycle the aluminium oxide. The gallium is not used, it is just a catalyst, normally aluminium will not react with water because an oxide layer forms over the surface of the aluminium protecting the rest of it from oxidising, but this does not happen when alloyed with gallium.

read about it here http://www.physorg.com/news98556080.html
 

another_someone

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #37 on: 25/04/2008 12:19:52 »
You don't need to worry about trying to store hydrogen in gas form, using pellets made of an alloy of aluminium and gallium, you can just store a tank of water in your car, and add the water to these pellets which reacts and turns the aluminium into aluminium oxide, and produces hydrogen. This way you get hydrogen on demand, without storing anything at high pressure. Then once you've exhausted your aluminium you get some more, and recycle the aluminium oxide. The gallium is not used, it is just a catalyst, normally aluminium will not react with water because an oxide layer forms over the surface of the aluminium protecting the rest of it from oxidising, but this does not happen when alloyed with gallium.

read about it here http://www.physorg.com/news98556080.html

But in that case you are not using hydrogen as a fuel at all, you are using aluminium as the fuel, with hydrogen merely being an intermediate product.  So what is the energy density of such a system (the weight and volume of aluminium and water required to produce a given amount of energy)?
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #38 on: 25/04/2008 15:11:10 »
Well, you're using both aluminium and hydrogen yes. Here's a quote from the article:

Quote
"Most people don't realize how energy intensive aluminum is," Woodall said. "For every pound of aluminum you get more than two kilowatt hours of energy in the form of hydrogen combustion and more than two kilowatt hours of heat from the reaction of aluminum with water. A midsize car with a full tank of aluminum-gallium pellets, which amounts to about 350 pounds of aluminum, could take a 350-mile trip and it would cost $60, assuming the alumina is converted back to aluminum on-site at a nuclear power plant.

"How does this compare with conventional technology? Well, if I put gasoline in a tank, I get six kilowatt hours per pound, or about two and a half times the energy than I get for a pound of aluminum. So I need about two and a half times the weight of aluminum to get the same energy output, but I eliminate gasoline entirely, and I am using a resource that is cheap and abundant in the United States. If only the energy of the generated hydrogen is used, then the aluminum-gallium alloy would require about the same space as a tank of gasoline, so no extra room would be needed, and the added weight would be the equivalent of an extra passenger, albeit a pretty large extra passenger."
 

another_someone

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #39 on: 25/04/2008 22:06:13 »
So, the fuel takes twice the weight (not only in the car, but right through the delivery chain); but most importantly, the whole exercise relies on a massive increase in nuclear power generation that has yet to happen (it may yet happen, but would take decades to build up that level of nuclear capacity - and ofcourse, countries like Iran will not even be allowed to build up any nuclear capacity at all).
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #40 on: 26/04/2008 09:55:52 »
Drastic times call for drastic measures man. We've done a hell of a lot to mess up the atmosphere, it makes sense we're going to have to put a hell of alot of energy into fixing it.
 

another_someone

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #41 on: 26/04/2008 12:21:47 »
Drastic times call for drastic measures man. We've done a hell of a lot to mess up the atmosphere, it makes sense we're going to have to put a hell of alot of energy into fixing it.

Not sure if things are nearly as drastic as some people imagine (only time will tell whether it is fiction or fact); but no matter what, the last thing you want to do when you are in a tight spot is panic.

We have already seen 'drastic' means being taken with regard to biofuels, and now people are realising that nobody had thought through the consequences of these 'drastic' actions.

So now the next 'drastic' action is going to be what?  Supplying Burma, Zimbabwe, et. al. free nuclear power plants?

Every action we take carries risks, and the one thing we don't want to be doing is jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Clearly, nothing lasts forever, and there have been times in the past when human beings have been through environmental changes.  Humans have learnt to roll with the punches, and not try and assume that yesterday's environment can last forever - it cannot, no matter how hard we try.
 

Offline McQueen

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #42 on: 03/05/2008 08:09:20 »
There is absolutely no doubt that Hydrogen is a superior fuel in every sense to petroleum, if that hydrogen is used in a fuel cell, things look even better b'cos a fuel cell has an efficiency of 99% compared to the 20% or thereabouts of an IC piston engine. That is the good part. The not so good part is that free hydrogen, although it is the most abundant element in the Universe, is not available on earth. If you think about it the reason for this is obvious, there are no fields of Hydrogen gas as occur with CNG, b'cos hydrogen just escapes into space through the atmosphere. The only alternative is therefore to extract hydrogen from some rich hydrocarbon source such as petroleum or Methane etc., Obviously this is an extremely expensive and wasteful process and potentially even more damaging to the environment than just carrying on using the good old IC piston engine with its less than 20% efficiency.
 

Offline McQueen

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #43 on: 03/05/2008 08:56:29 »
Hi! This post about Hydrazine hydrate, just brought to mind another historical conundrum that I think I have solved. Many of you must remember the inventor who duped Henry Ford out of 10,000 dollars with his claims of a car that could run on water. Here is the gist of the story. This guy challenged Henry Ford that he had a new invention that could make possible for a car to run on pure water. He issued a challenge. Ford being the capitalist that he was, accepted, the two decided a time and place to meet. Ford brought along a whole contingent of mechanics who stripped the test car and then re-assembled it!!! This guy then brought a bucket of water, poured it into the tank and the car actually ran, and ran and ran. Yes it did! Ford of course lost face and had to cough up, 10,000 dollars. On examination the water that had been poured into the tank was found to be of a green colour and with a rather acrid smell. The inventor said that he had to protect his investment!! Surprise, surprise!! Ford was willing to offer millions, but this guy disappeared. Enigmatic right!! Here is what I think happened. What this inventor did was to drop a few pieces of acetylene into the tank, and then disguise it with some cyanide or other bitter smelling chemical. Acetylene is the same chemical that is used in the oxy-acetlylene welding process. Acetylene is even more volatile than gunpowder and is highly corrosive, still if you drop a few pieces of it into water you are going to get enough combustible mix to power a car!!!
 

lyner

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #44 on: 03/05/2008 11:12:47 »
Reading these endless threads about the wonder chemical Hydrogen, I ask myself  why people confuse energy storage with energy resources. Hydrogen is NOT an energy resource. It may have advantages as a way of storing energy but you still have to produce the Hydrogen gas in the first place using some other resource.
 

Offline McQueen

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #45 on: 07/05/2008 11:40:06 »
I was reading the article on "Who killed the electric car?" and one of the ideas suggested there was that automobile manufacturers and oil companies were promoting the fuel cell in an effort to draw attention away from EV's.
« Last Edit: 07/05/2008 11:43:19 by McQueen »
 

Offline skeptic

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #46 on: 14/06/2008 22:35:15 »
Burns hydrogen instead of oil. So you can fill your car up with water, and only oxygen comes out the back.

Actually, I saw a commercial for this on TV, they said water vapor comes out which I find hard to beileve cause I thought we were years away from these things.

The part we are years away from is doing it efficiently. Hydrogen burns to produce water, but costs more to produce than gasoline.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #47 on: 15/06/2008 10:37:01 »
"What this inventor did was to drop a few pieces of acetylene into the tank"
How do you drop pieces of a gas like acetylene into anything?
It's also not particularly corrosive.
 

Offline qazibasit

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #48 on: 15/06/2008 22:00:52 »
People are pasting whole topics here, i am not used to of it i just say it in a line or two and if ur wise enough u will get it.
Well what actually fuel is?
Fuel is basically something that burns and gives energy.
In our gasoline cars we are burning the petrol to give our car energy but in an hydrogen car u will have to put the hydrogen gas compressed in a cylinder which will burn same mechanism as that of a gasoline engine just the change in the fuel source just like in large hydrogen baloons.
« Last Edit: 15/06/2008 22:14:15 by qazibasit »
 

Offline skeptic

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Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #49 on: 16/06/2008 20:03:42 »
Is this the silly season for nakedscientist forums?
Doesn't anyone read books before starting to post here?

I think 2008 is the Year of the New Snake Oil Revolution. I even had a public librarian telling me that Stanley Meyer's 'Water Car' is a reality, suppressed by government conspiracy,in spite of the fact that it violates the laws of physics.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: How does a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car work?
« Reply #49 on: 16/06/2008 20:03:42 »

 

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