Featured Resource: How Hydrogen Fuel Is Made (DNews)
Is hydrogen fuel the future of car fuel? Learn more about how it’s made. 


Do Now

Do you believe hydrogen fuel cells are a practical renewable energy option? Should companies invest in improving fuel cell technology or should automakers focus on other types of energy? #DoNowHydrogen

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Introduction

As we decrease our dependence on fossil fuels, scientist are researching alternative ways of powering vehicles, such as hydrogen fuel cells (HFC). HFCs are devices that produce electricity by using chemical reactions between hydrogen and oxygen. First invented in 1838, commercial use of HFCs as a power source began in 1965 with the launch of NASA’s Gemini 5, part of NASA’s second human spaceflight program. Capturing the public’s fascination with space, General Motors launched the fuel cell van project, creating the 1966 Electrovan, the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (HFCV) ever produced.

The fuel cells shelf in bay 4 of Apollo Service Module No. SM 109, with the top of oxygen tank No. 2 at lower left, at North American Rockwell NASA

Shortly after the prototype was made, the project quickly faded due to high cost of production and lack of hydrogen fuel infrastructure. In recent years, with the demand of renewable, clean fuels, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have had a comeback. Japan is leading and expanding the car industry in HFCVs with a production goal of 40,000 models by 2020, aiming to have 160 fueling stations in the next year. The HFCV industry is still in its beginning stages and shows promise as a new fuel source for the future. However, with the rise in popularity of electric vehicles, are HFCs still a viable clean energy alternative?

Background Science

HFCs pose an efficient and clean alternative to fossil fuels. HFCs are made up of stacks of cells made up of an electrolyte membrane that separates a positive terminal (anode) and negative terminal (cathode). Hydrogen gas is obtained externally through natural gas reforming, water electrolysis, and charcoal gasification. It is then stored in a highly pressurized fuel tank in the vehicle. Refueling a HFCV is just like pumping gasoline into a gas powered car. In each cell, pressurized hydrogen is pumped into an anode and split up into hydrogen ions and electrons. The ions then travel through the electrolyte membrane, towards the cathode. Meanwhile, the electrons flow through an outer circuit, attracted to the cathode on the other side. The flow of electrons powers the electric motor that drives the car’s wheels. In the cathode, the ions and electrons recombine with oxygen from the surrounding air to produce water as waste. Although there is still room for improvement, many people believe HFCs could ultimately end our environmental fuel concerns.

The Debate

Hydrogen is an accessible energy source because it is one of the most abundant elements in the universe, making it a renewable source when produced with renewable sources of energy. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the hydrogen-fueled vehicles cut down 30% of environmental warming emission. One of the early hydrogen-fueled car models, the Hyundai Tuscon Fuel Cell SUV, only produces 286 g CO2eq/mile (equivalent carbon dioxide emissions per mile), compared to a gasoline vehicle which produces 411 g CO2eq/mile. Since HFCs create electricity chemically, instead of through combustion, they are more efficient in extracting energy. The waste products of hydrogen fuel cells are solely water (H2O), heat, and electricity, demonstrating how environmentally-friendly this energy source is. These fuel cells could also have uses beyond just automobiles. They have potential use as a household power source with the same, if not better, efficiency, maintenance, and cost as household solar panels.

However, HFCs are not without problems. Current methods of obtaining hydrogen are inefficient, and often rely on large amounts of fossil fuels to complete the process. The most common method is natural gas reforming, a process that heats methane with steam to form hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Additionally, regardless of the technological innovation, the cost of producing hydrogen-fueled cars remains an aching concern. A study at University of Chicago pointed out that the Mirai model costs $60,000, double the cost of a comparable electric car. Moreover, the refuelling infrastructure is virtually nonexistent, with only 50 within California, although the goal is to increase that number in the near future. The refueling process for some vehicles is advertised to take as little as 3 mins, but a recent study by GreenCarReports says that in practice, the refueling took 10 minutes at the least. In theory HFCs are an efficient and environmental way of powering vehicles, but until the cost of production is lowered and hydrogen can be produced cleanly and accessed easily, it could fade into the background like the Electrovan.


More Resources

ARTICLE: Will Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Cars Be America’s Car of the Future? (Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago)

VIDEO: “Will Your Hydrogen Car Explode?” (DNews)

ARTICLE: “Hydrogen-Powered Cars Are Better Than Electric Cars -But There’s a Catch” (Business Insider)

ARTICLE: 10 Disadvantages and Advantages of Hydrogen Fuel Cells (The Next Galaxy)


KQED Education partners with phenomenal organizations to bring you the Science Do Now activities. This post was written by the following youth from the California Academy of Sciences’ TechTeens program:

Alex O., Annika S., Daniel R., Jacob G., Julia A., June H., Kavi D.,
Kiran M., Michelle C., and Robbie P.

The TechTeens are youth leaders who use digital media to develop and communicate science stories for the public.

Are Hydrogen Fuel Cells a Viable Source of Energy For Vehicles? 8 March,2017California Academy of Sciences
  • Joshua Lewis

    Hydrogen fuel cells are definitely a renewable energy option in todays fossil fuel energy crisis, but if car companies decide to implement this, they must keep in mind that their is an extremely high cost to building hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. This new Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle industry is a huge threat to the gasoline and oil industries. Larry West a environmental issues expert shares “automakers spend upwards of $1 million to produce each vehicle, due to the advanced technology involved and low production runs” from http://environment.about.com/od/fossilfuels/a/fcv.htm and adds on the other hand, that one of the only by products of running a hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicle is oxygen and a trickle of water, neither of which will cause any harm to human health or the environment. Meaning that their are none of the negative repercussions in a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle compared to gasoline and oil options. However, automakers improving fuel cell technology as a new source of energy to power cars is important for the improvement of communities effected by severe combustion air pollution. This new technology needs to continue and grow because it is crucial to our society to help conserve energy by making the way we drive less pollutive and more affordable. However until those points are met, one of the main downsides I see to this vehicle in more peoples hands is because of the high cost and the low availability of hydrogen fill up stations, which will no doubt change over time. It is up to fueling stations to adapt to fuel cell technology to start building easy infrastructure for the Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

    • Yasmin Gonzalez

      You make very good points of course hydrogen fuel cells to a lot less harm to us then oil and gasoline but i don’t think its the solution for our next big source of fuel for cars. Like you mention a problem with these fuel cells would be the low amount of hydrogen fill up stations over time and yes that would probably change over time but how much would it change? Electric cars have been around for a while now and there is still very limited charging stations that make having an electric car difficult and inconvenient. Car companies need to find a way to fuel cars that not only helps are environment but also appeals to the consumers. If the public does not like the cars or will cause inconveniences they won’t buy them and the money the car companies put into building these cars will be a waste. #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

  • Yasmin Gonzalez

    I think coming up with a new form of fuel that isn’t affecting our planet so negatively is definitely needed but maybe hydrogen fuel cells aren’t the answer. If in the process of perfecting this we’re having to use fossil fuels isn’t it going against its purpose? Maybe in the long run it’ll be worth it but only if they’re able to make these cars affordable if they can’t make them a reasonable price people will just keep buying cars that run on regular fuel. It’s also a risk for people to buy these cars because there isn’t very many charging stations. If there isn’t enough charging stations where you need to go or wherever you want to travel you can only go as far as the fuel can take you. In an article I read Tesla CEO says that at the end of the process of making this fuel along with the cost it is half the efficiency of a regular electrical car. https://thinkprogress.org/elon-musk-is-right-hydrogen-is-an-incredibly-dumb-car-fuel-d0f37a4c9bee#.rhqmofki9 I think that finding an alternative fuel is a step in the right direction but we need to further explore other options that are more beneficial for our environment while being cost effective. I think if companies try to go with the Hydrogen fuel cells they’re going to end up losing more money it would be better to wait for a better source of fuel to be discovered and tested. #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

    • Ryan Sotelo

      I agree that right now the creation of the Hydrogen Fuel Cells is kind of going against their purpose do to all the fossil fuels being used to create them. However, with how efficient these cars can become, and with our own technological advances in the near future, I feel like switching from coal to solar power to create the HFC’s is feasible and that it could be something that companies will start to do. #MyCMSTargs #DoNowHydrogen

    • Zoe Atava

      I somewhat agree. I believe that it is important to be practical and taking both time and money into consideration is a way to determine the likelihood of people wanting a product. HFC’s possibly aren’t the answer, however, alternative energy is. It is important for us to continue to prioritize that as well as prioritizing our earth and the effects that our waste has. Maybe, HFC’s should be marketing and targeting elite individuals. Possibly, there should be a way to “glam” it up in order to spark the interest of individuals who have the means to purchase a vehicle with that type of energy. #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

    • Ryan Meidlinger

      I agree that for companies it would not be worthwhile for them to take this step because it doesn’t fully accomplish the purpose of avoiding the use of fossil fuels and it is too expensive. The average person will not buy a HFC just because it is better for the environment, there needs to be more incentive for people to buy it and there is none. Companies and people are just not going to buy into this idea.

  • Ryan Sotelo

    I believe that HFC’s have the potential to become our practical form of renewable fuel for transportation. While the issues that are apparent now are the price of the vehicles and the environmental impact of creating the Hydrogen cells for fuel, “Automakers involved in making hydrogen-powered cars have shown that the technology provides a longer range, shorter charge time, and has the added benefit of having zero emissions.” http://www.businessinsider.com/why-hydrogen-powered-cars-are-better-2016-1. Toyota, who has been working on HFC vehicles for over 20 years is continuing to work on the process, along with other car manufacturers and Universities throughout California, including Humboldt State University and UC Davis. Technology is advancing continuously and I feel like companies have the capabilities to make HFC’s more efficiently soon. As stated in the video at the beginning of the page, we have the potential to begin using cleaner energy sources rather than fossil fuels to create the Hydrogen Cells. If the companies can find a way to start using renewable energy such as wind power or solar power, then I think that HFC’s have a very promising future ahead. Much like how other new things progress, the technology will progress to find newer ways to create these Hydrogen vehicles, and I feel like with more production of the Hydrogen vehicles will come cheaper prices for them.
    #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

    • Brandon Biermann

      As you said, right now with HFC vehicles being compared to battery operated cars, HFC’s has the potential to be much more convenient for our environment and the consumer. This is going to be a very important trial and error process to establish some sort of comfort level for the consumers in order to get more people to invest in these cars. Everyone cares about cost and with the manufacture price a little step, this will affect the price of final cost. Overall, there are many great benefits that can lead to a better future. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowHydrogen

  • Zoe Atava

    I think that HFC’s need to have an important part in our means of transportation. Especially with Trump in office and his inability to recognize the fact that our environment is deteriorating, its important to mobilize all efforts of conserving energy and putting emphasis on other methods of technology. However, it is important to take everything into consideration. Possibly, from a marketing and advertising angle, there needs to me more media news on HFC’s as well as commercials promoting their product. Then, it will be easy to determine how in demand that these new vehicles will become. Time and Money are two very important factors to consider. Other alternative methods should continue to be used and sought out. I found the benefits of alternative energy on this article: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/renewable-energy/public-benefits-of-renewable-power#.WLSwrmNizow
    #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

    • Melanie Funk

      I like how you mentioned Trump being president. Now more than ever we need to keep fighting for the safety of our planet. I just don’t think these cars are the answer right now. Eventually, once fossil fuels are eliminated, they would be an awesome solution. #MyCMSTArgs

    • Grace Gerberich

      I agree with your point that it is important in this day in age to acknowledge and accept other forms of technology. We our environment constantly changing and growing we need to do everything we can to preserve it. I agree that there needs to be more media coverage on these hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in order to see if they would be a good suit. #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

  • Brigitte Dahrouj

    I understand that this hydrogen method has it’s flaws, but as stated in the video we could use greener methods of electrostatic separation of hydrogen and oxygen instead of coal. Plus, once cars begin to run on hydrogen we can make semi-trucks that run on hydrogen and that will be better for the environment. Overall, I believe this is a step in the right direction. In fact, upon research I found there are planes that run on hydrogen: http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/19/world/hy4-fuel-cell-plane/
    We need something to supplement fossil fuels so we can take the right step to helping our planet.
    #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

    • Ciana Bell

      I agree, I think that the benefits of pursuing hydrogen fuel cells outweighs the flaws that come with this new method. I highly doubt that everything we have today came about in a easy and financially inexpensive way. Everything takes time, research, and experimentation, but when it works out the results are truly amazing. Having a more environmentally friendly method of fuel would be a huge step for our country to help the environment that everyone is complaining about. I hope that there is continued research into this new method. Really good post! #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

    • Adrian Astorga

      I agree I think if we can have semis one of the largest transportors of goods powered by hydrogen then this planet will be greener. #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

    • Roxanne Galdos

      I agree that once an alternative method to manufacturing hydrogen is found it has the ability to become a great replacement for the use of fossil fuels. But no one knows when this epiphany will come. Until the production of hydrogen become more sustainable I think the best option is to pursue fuel alternatives that we know work effectively. There’s no doubt that the potential use of HFC’s are a step in the right direction when it comes to sustainable fuel methods but at their current state of production I believe they’re doing more harm than good. #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

    • Justis Haruo Kusumoto

      While I agree with your green intentions, the KQED article points out that natural gas reforming is the most common method to produce hydrogen fuel, which produces massive amounts of Carbon Dioxide, which is most certainly detrimental to our climate, and environment. We cannot jump on board the hydrogen fuel cell train without major breakthroughs in clean production of hydrogen fuel to make it much more profitable and greener. Also, there is a huge infrastructure gap that we need to fill in order to make it economically viable to the average consumer.

    • Kyle Beaudry

      I agree that the fuel cells will help the environment but with that it has its downsides. The time and money it will take to produce the fuel cells is an issue. Also the large amounts of fossil fuels needed to get the Hydrogen needed for the fuel cells. If these fuel cells are to come into play, they must be able to be affordable and the hydrogen needs another way of being extracted.

  • Roxanne Galdos

    The use of hydrogen fuel cells as a renewable source of energy sounds good in theory but I think that the costs of mass producing HFC outweigh the benefits. As of now the process used to obtain hydrogen (methods relying on fossil fuels) defeats its purpose in replacing the use of fossil fuels itself. There is also a rise in the use and manufacturing of electric cars. Much like HFC powered vehicles there are limited fuel, or better known recharging stations, that electric cars must go to. But in recent years property managers are receiving tax write offs for building electric car charging stations in new developments. This incentive has increased the benefits and usage of electric cars making them more practical and affordable. While hydrogen seem like a good alternative source of energy I believe that until there are more sustainable ways to produce and transport HFC’s we should focus on expanding and promoting the use of electric cars. https://www.reminetwork.com/articles/the-benefits-of-ev-charging-stations/ #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

  • Melanie Funk

    I think HFC’s definitely need some work. I’m all for helping the environment and limiting our wastes, but it’s not quite practical yet. They’re not affordable for the average person and is still causing waste by using fossil fuels to produce it. This site delves deeper into why they just are not up to par yet: http://evobsession.com/more-reasons-hydrogen-fuel-cell-cars-arent-the-future/ As soon as someone can make it more affordable and less potent to our planet, I agree hydrogen cars should be much more popular. #MyCMSTArgs

    • Neve Roby

      I agree that HFC’s could use some work & I think that helping the environment and limiting our wastes are important but I disagree that it’s not quite practical yet. I understand that cars that run of HFC’s are expensive as of now but majority all cars are ranging around $26,000+, I know theres a few outliers but majority are expensive, so the fact that they’re aren’t totally affordable to the average person is something that can be changed if more people continue to buy them. I agree HFC’s have their flaws but I think they’re one of the best options we have out there as of now. #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

  • Ciana Bell

    I think that hydrogen fuel cells are a very practical renewable energy option that should be looked into further. As stated there are some flaws and setbacks, but I feel that the benefits definitely outweigh the costs. With that being said, I think companies should invest in improving fuel cell technology and I also feel that automakers should continue to focus on other types of energy options because we should always be looking for ways to better our environment. With the possibility of new innovations such as this it is important for our country to remain informed on all angels of the research that is being conducted with the costs, benefits, financial changes, environmental changes, and also how it will impact the majority of the population. Hydrogen fuel cells is something that I fell won’t happen for many more years to come, but knowing there is a possibility for a more environmentally safe energy source that is being looked into does give some peace of mind. Attached is a Fact sheet for hydrogen fuel cells for more information on the topic. https://www.hydrogen.energy.gov/pdfs/doe_fuelcell_factsheet.pdf #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

  • Brandon Biermann

    Hydrogen fueled cells (HFC) has the potential to create a new era of clean emissions. The concern right now that is effecting our infrastructure, is the amount that it costs to manufacture this vehicle, the method in which they obtain the hydrogen and the lack of HFC refueling stations. This article from Business Insider, http://www.businessinsider.com/why-hydrogen-powered-cars-are-better-2016-1 , establishes that the new HFC cars from corporations like Audi have the potential to go nearly 400 miles on one trip, which is almost doubled that of battery operated vehicles. Now my concern has to do with the process of obtaining hydrogen. If it takes fossils fuels to obtain the final outcome of hydrogen, they why would we go away from our current vehicles. Its seems counter-productive to try to get rid of one product, to replace it with another that uses the same resources. But the positives are that it does provide a much cleaner bi-product for our atmosphere. I do believe that through trial and error, this can have many great benefits to our economy. #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

  • Neve Roby

    Every form of energy has its own set of flaws and consequences but the benefits of using hydrogen as fuel outweigh the negatives. In the article above it says the hydrogen-fueled vehicles cut down 30% of environmental warming emission, I think this is pretty impressive as well as pretty necessary. The current president and most of his cabinet don’t believe in global warming and don’t think its an issue so I think its up to the people to come up with solutions so our planet has a chance of surviving. I think hydrogen fuel would be a stellar step in the right direction to saving the environment! Fuel cell today writes a good article about the benefits of hydrogen cell fuels http://fuelcelltoday.com/about-fuel-cells/benefits. #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

    • Antonio Gutierrez

      I believe that hydrogen should be used more than other types of fuel the benefits is that hydrogen can be cheaper at gas stations your examples were very good at explaining the benefits of fuel and how it should be used our car emissions does release a lot and hydrogen in the other hand releases steam.

    • Rylee Marr

      In terms of the environment, I have to agree with you that hydrogen fuel would be an immense upgrade compared to fossil fuels, and I also support the idea that it is up to people to do what is best for our environment, but thinking realistically, people are not going to spend double the amount of money on a regular car versus an eco freidnly car. Specifically if this car cannot be refueled at regular stations, the stations avaliable are limited, and it takes ten minutes out of their day to do so. Incidentally producing this fuel uses as fossil fuels in the process which contradicts the ecological motive behind the ideology. Due to the inconvenience and inefficency of hydrogen fueled cars, it would be better to invest time and money in electric cars that also benefit the environment, cost half as much, and have more charging stations.

  • Grace Gerberich

    I believe in finding a new way to get and produce fuel that doesn’t affect our planet as much as it is being affected currently, but if we decide to implement hydrogen fuel cells we must consider a lot of factors. One being it will require a lot of money and will bring about the downfall of the oil and gasoline industries. But a benefit of the hydrogen fuel cells is that they won’t cause any harm to the environment or to human health because all these vehicles will use is oxygen and water. But if we continue to use our current fuel methods those areas with extreme pollution will continue to worsen if we don’t make a change. I believe we need this change in fuel or else our environment will continue to suffer. There comes a time where we need to be out with the old and in with the new. It will take time and money but it is necessary to take a step forward in order to support these hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. #DoNowHyrogen #MyCMSTArgs https://www.driveclean.ca.gov/Search_and_Explore/Technologies_and_Fuel_Types/Hydrogen_Fuel_Cell.php

  • Adrian Astorga

    I think Hydrogen Fueled vehicles are something this world needs. With all the burning of fossil fuels we are going to need to change how we are powering our vehicles. If we can master a Hydrogen Fueled car then soon enough we will be able to power Semi-Trucks that transport most of the products across this nation. Overall Hydrogen Fuel cars have a range of about 400 miles according to this article http://www.businessinsider.com/why-hydrogen-powered-cars-are-better-2016-1 and charge faster than the number one electric car tesla produces. I think this is a great advancement into making this planet greener. #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

    • Hannah Fulks

      I completely agree. At the rate that we are burning through fossil fuels, we need to be constantly thinking of how to more effectively use energy before it is too late. In my opinion, we need to make this change as soon as possible. According to the EPA, burning these fossil fuels releases nitrogen oxide, upsetting the natural nitrogen levels in the atmosphere, causing damage to our environment. #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs https://www.epa.gov/nutrientpollution/sources-and-solutions-fossil-fuels

  • Hannah Fulks

    While I understand that this specific method of hydrogen power has it’s flaws, I believe that current methods also have their flaws. I believe that hydrogen power is something worth striving to know more about, as this could be extremely beneficial for everyone. Many articles have been published citing that a nitrogen powered car could soon be replacing electric cars.
    http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/10/nitrogen-cycle
    The EPA has acknowledged many concerns with fossil fuels, and I am worried that with Trumps presidency, much won’t get done to help the environment. https://www.epa.gov/nutrientpollution/sources-and-solutions-fossil-fuels
    For example, Trump told the EPA on January 24 that it had to freeze all grants and contracts. This does not sound like a president who has the environment in mind.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/01/23/trump-administration-tells-epa-to-freeze-all-grants-contracts/?utm_term=.fee136a38299

    #DoNowHydrogen #MyCMSTArgs

  • Justis Haruo Kusumoto

    Do you believe hydrogen fuel cells are a practical renewable energy option? Should companies invest in improving fuel cell technology or should automakers focus on other types of energy? #DoNowHydrogen

    Hydrogen fuel cells are a potential renewable energy option, but their practicality is deeply in question. Companies should invest and focus on other types of energy until hydrogen fuel infrastructure is much more developed and electric production is cleaner. The attached source to this article, at “Next Galaxy” https://thenextgalaxy.com/10-disadvantages-and-advantages-of-hydrogen-fuel-cells/ outlined a number of benefits and disadvantages to the hydrogen fuel cell technology. However, many of the advantages are immediately canceled out by the disadvantages. For one, it takes massive amounts of electricity to produce hydrogen fuel. This KQED article admits that the most common way to make hydrogen fuel is natural gas reforming, which produces copious amounts of CO2 which is detrimental to our atmosphere and climate. Furthermore, even in hydrogen friendly states like California, there are only 50 hydrogen fuel stations, limiting the economic competitiveness of this product.

  • chrisatcafcp

    The statements that producing hydrogen from natural gas is inefficient and “emits huge amounts of CO2” are incorrect. Producing hydrogen from natural gas is a chemical process that is more efficient than burning natural gas to produce electricity. The well-to-wheels GHG emissions from a fuel cell vehicle and battery vehicle are about the same when natural gas is the feedstock for both.

    Like electricity, hydrogen can be made from many sources, including biogas (wastewater treatment, landfills) and biomass (animal manure, crop waste) as well as from solar and wind electrolysis. As a bonus, hydrogen can store energy from wind and solar similar to how a battery can store excess energy.

    ZERO hydrogen for fuel comes from coal.

    Chris White
    California Fuel Cell Partnership
    http://www.cafcp.org
    (and a Honda Clarity owner)

  • Chris Peeples

    Dear Whoever Is In Charge:

    The Alameda-Contra Transit District, across the bay in Oakland, has been running fuel cell buses for over 12 years. AC currently have the largest fuel cell bus fleet in the world and are about to almost double it. AC has operated over 2,144,265 zero emission miles and boarded over 10,000,000 people. If you have questions about fuel cells, you should contact us. We would be happy to give you a tour of our fuel cell facilities. More information at: http://www.actransit.org/environment/the-hyroad/.

    — Chris Peeples —
    =====================================
    H. E. Christian (Chris) Peeples
    At-Large Director
    Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District
    1600 Franklin Street, 10th Floor
    Oakland, California 94612-2800
    cpeeples@actransit.org http://www.actransit.org
    =====================================

  • Hillary Clintub

    The biggest obstacle is the already sunk investment in other kinds of fuel technologies. We can’t just change our whole infrastructure overnight.

    • Zachary Wells

      I agree, there is already enough money invested in electric cars. There is no need to start investing money in hydrogen vehicles.

      • Trevor_Bohlke

        I disagree, I believe that we need to invest more money in order to allow these cars to be created because without the strive to do it we will never accomplish it

  • Ryan Meidlinger

    HFC’s are not our solution for renewable energy because it is not worthwhile for companies. Automotive companies are not going to take the opportunity of HFC’s because it is too costly for a small chance of making a profit. The fuel and vehicle production costs are too much and the fact that HFC fuel stations may not pop up makes the investment of companies to risky, also considering that people may just not buy HFC’s.

    • Charles Lamb

      I agree with you on this argument because the production of Hydrogen fuel cells are just inefficient. The processes we have now of making hydrogen fuel cells demands fossil fuels and creates even more CO2, so that just defeats the purpose in the first place, like weren’t we shooting to lower fuel emissions, and I’m pretty sure most Americans, like the coal rollers would be against this.

    • Chase Williams

      I agree with the argument that you make, the cons do seem to outweigh the pros. While I and hopefully everyone would love to have no more emissions being given off by cars, the process to getting to that point would almost contradict the point of using hydrogen because most of the process and transportations would require fossil fuel in some form or emit something dangerous to the environment.

    • Adriana Lopez

      I agree with you on how the hydrogen fuel cells are not our solution for renewable energy. Such as how the fuels stations may not pop up and makes the investment of companies too risky and how the vehicle is too costly.

  • Charles Lamb

    I don’t believe that we should start using Hydrogen powered cars. This process of making hydrogen fuel cells is inefficient and produces massive amounts of CO2, which defeats the purpose. I don’t even think we’re going to use hydrogen fuel cells in the future, people thought Nuclear Energy and electricity would be the future at one point, but that didn’t last, and plus the oil and gas companies would drag their feet, we don’t even have an efficient way to produce this kind of stuff on a large scale.

  • Zachary Wells

    Use of hydrogen energy has its flaws. The cars are expensive, hydrogen is obtained by burning fossil fuels, and there are electric cars that are just as clean. At this point, with cars that are already environmentally friendly, there is really no need to spend money on another type of car that runs on a different kind of earth-friendly fuel.

    • Nellie Vang

      I agree that HFCs cars are expensive and they are obtained by burning fossil fuels which is bad. However, they are clean and efficient like electric cars. Also we could try to use wind and solar power to obtain Hydrogen. When we find a more efficient way to obtain Hydrogen, we can lower the cost of production. Electric cars take a long time to charge so it won’t be useful in a time of urgency. Also they only travel for a certain amount of miles. Therefore, you must plan your route in case your car stop in the middle of the road. There is no harm in trying to create more environmental friendly cars.

  • Trevor_Bohlke

    Hydrogen is the basic building block of our universe, so why not use it? This is a great way to replace fossil fuels and is much better for our environment as it produces almost half the Co2. Hydrogen is much cheaper as well and the cost reduction could be good for consumers. However, HFC’s have their flaws they are very expensive to make and their aren’t enough hydrogen stations around in order for it to be worth getting a HFC

    • Estephany Hernandez

      I agree HFC’s have their flaws but with hydrogen being the building block of our universe there will eventually be more hydrogen stations that get people buying more HFC’s

  • Antonio Gutierrez

    In my opinion I believe that hydrogen fuel should be used in cars, and it may be more expensive to make, but hydrogen can make a better economy due to the way it can be used. One great example is that it is mostly used for food processing and petroleum to make it and to use it, but there are some negative effects about hydrogen it can also be very dangerous due to the way it is a combustion, the fuel can cause a big explosion if the driver was to get hit by another driver, also the fuel can leak at any moment and cause the person to smell something odd and if he lights up a match the car will catch on fire and blow up. In my opinion I still believe that hydrogen cars will be the future due to the way it can be used for vehicles and others.

    • Raul Pena

      I disagree. Hydrogen fuel cells don’t seem like a very good. They’re not that efficient and they’re also not as environmentally friendly as we’d want them to be. The methods we use right now produce CO2 and we have enough of that going into the atmosphere already. They are also expensive – double the price of an average electric car – and the refueling structure practically doesn’t exist. A way to fix all these things has to be found.

  • Nellie Vang

    I agree that Hydrogen Fuel Cells are a viable source of energy for vehicles.They are a clean and efficient alternative to fossil fuels. When HFCs are burned they emit water, heat, and electricity. They don’t harm the atmosphere or damage the environment. Also since they are so accessible and abundant we don’t have to worry about running out. Using HFCs would mean that we don’t have to drill the earth for oil and gas anymore.

    • Kaley Kranich

      I agree with your response that Hydrogen Fuel Cells are a viable source of energy for vehicles. They could help solve the problem of pollution that is emitted heavily by cars that use fossil fuels. There is such an abundant of hydrogen in the universe that we should put it to some more good use and at the same time clean up our environment.

  • Kyle Beaudry

    Hydrogen fuel cells should not replace our energy source for cars. The idea of these fuel cells is great, but it will be a very difficult task to get these cars to all drivers. The cost of the cars alone are a big issue and the cost of the fuel cells to be made is large as well. Also, a lot of fossil fuels will have to be used to extract this Hydrogen which makes the problem worse. If we can find a way to lower our gasoline usage I believe that would be more efficient than the fuel cells.

  • Kaley Kranich

    With just driving our fossil fueled cars alone, we are responsible for about 75% of all the air pollution in the world. This pollution is not only destroying our environment, but is also having a negative impact on human’s and animal’s health. We have began to recognize all the damage we have done and started to cut down our our usage of fossil fuels. Now, we are looking at the possibility of fueling our cars with hydrogen. Not only is hydrogen the most abundant element found in nature, it could be the clean, renewable resource that we have been looking for all along. These hydrogen fueled cars will be creating electricity chemically, as opposed to the formal combustion method we use in cars today and the only waste products would be water, heat and electricity. Though, these hydrogen fueled cars do have their flaws, but we shouldn’t give up on the idea totally just because of some problems. The price of these cars will,of course, be quite extravagant at first, but with time, they would decrease, also, as of right now we extract hydrogen with fossil fuels, but there are possibilities of finding a green way to do it instead. So, yes, hydrogen fuels cells can be a viable source of energy for vehicles

  • Raul Pena

    Hydrogen fuel cells do not seem like a very viable energy source for cars. They are not very efficient and they are also not as environmentally friendly as we’d want them to be. Current methods produce CO2 and we have enough of that going into the atmosphere already. They are also expensive – double the price of an average electric car – and the refueling structure practically doesn’t exist. Unless, a way to fix all these things is found, we should not be using fuel cells as an energy source for cars.

    • Jesus Hernandez

      I agree that HFC don’t seem like a viable energy source right now. Until we can fix the negative effects of HFC we shouldn’t use HFC cars.

    • Harvey Santoyo

      Although there are many flaws, with more improvements to the hydrogen fuel cells they should be very eco friendly. The price of the cars should also come down because the governments will see how non-pollutant this way of energy is.

  • Harvey Santoyo

    I believe we are entering a new age of energy usage using Hydrogen. This is very good for the environment because we will be cutting 30% global warming emissions. Also the products of using this hydrogen as energy are just water, heat, and electricity. Which does not produce any greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Although there are flaws in the way that hydrogen is produced, we can overcome them and make hydrogen using another method.

    • Jonathan Rodriguez

      I agree, I think that the benefits of pursuing hydrogen fuel cells outweighs the flaws that come with this new method. I highly doubt that everything we have today came about in a easy and financially inexpensive way. These methods of fuel will benefit our future in a great way.

    • Kevin Vang

      I have to disagree with you because the cost of hydrogen cost is to high, transporting Hydrogen is to difficult, and it is not as clean as you think it is. Until we could control the amount of CO2 that is being made and the price of it goes down then we may use hydrogen.

      • Bruce Ferrell

        Hydrocarbon reformation isn’t needed. Electrical hydrolysis fed by cheap renewables, wind and solar tend to produce more energy than can be used right away. Using that excess to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, storing the hydrogen makes complete sense and releases no CO2.

    • Gildardo Ruiz

      I agree,I believe that Hydrogen has a infinite possibilities in the near future to become our primary source of fuel due to the fact that it’s very cheap and would very much benefit all of our futures in the way that it will cause less damage than what the current fuel is causing.

  • Estephany Hernandez

    I do believe we should replace hydrogen for fossil fuel. The use of hydrogen may have it’s flaws but with hydrogen being cheaper and better for our environment more hydrogen stations should be built. Hydrogen is also one of the most abundant elements our universe has so we have a reliable source of hydrogen to use for not just cars but many other electricity needs.

  • Jesus Hernandez

    HFC cars are in the future for the world. HFC cars are in the future for the world because of all the benefits it provides like there is zero emissions and the only waste is water, heat, and electricity. Despite all the benefits HFC cars provide they are not in our immediate future since many improvements need to be done before we could use them. HFC cars are not in our immediate future because getting the hydrogen for the cars is expensive and requires a lot of fossil fuels another reason why hydrogen powered cars are not in our immediate future is that there is almost nowhere to fuel hydrogen powered cars. What we need to do before we can get hydrogen powered cars is improve hydrogen production and add more hydrogen fueling stations around the world then we can start using this wonderful technology.

  • Chase Williams

    While using Hydrogen to run cars might sound like it would be really efficient, the process of making the hydrogen is where the cons begin to outweigh the pros. You can see in the video while the US might generate more than 9 million metric tons of hydrogen, 95% of that hydrogen is produced through natural gas reformation, which also generates carbon monoxide. The other way to generate hydrogen is to through electrolysis and this can be run by solar and wind power, making it green for the environment, but is usually run using coal and fossil fuels. If we were to eventually produce Hydrogen without emitting or using anything that could damage the environment, I still don’t believe many people would be completely convinced to cross over to using hydrogen fuel due to how little data there is for it and because of how more than 85% of the US population owns a car that runs off of fossil fuels, including the transportation that would be needed to transport the hydrogen.

  • Jonathan Rodriguez

    I believe that hydrogen running cars are key to our future and i’m all for having them and developing them. We won’t always have fossil fuels so we need to find an alternative for the future. These cars will cut down 30% of environmental warming emission and help reduce air pollution.

  • Adriana Lopez

    Hydrogen fuel cells are not a viable source of energy for vehicles. The vehicles rely on large amounts of fossil fuel plus the cars are too expensive. They also take about 10 minutes to refuel the car, while in other types of car take around only 3 minutes. Also how there are not many stations to refuel the type of vehicle.

  • Kevin Vang

    I think we should wait until hydrogen gas becomes affordable. Right now the cost production is high and buying a hydrogen car cost double the amount of an electric car. Refueling a hydrogen car take around 10 minutes according to GreenCarReport which takes too much time. We make hydrogen using coal which is a creates pollution and the U.S is not very good at transporting hydrogen. So until we find better ways of getting hydrogen and find affordable prices then we may start using hydrogen fuel.

  • Gildardo Ruiz

    I agree with this article because I see the effort to make this world a better place by replacing harmful things released by Gasoline.Also, I see that this will hopefully become safer and more efficient as well as become more clean to make.

  • Rylee Marr

    The benefits hydrogen fuel cells would provdie for the environemnt through running vehichles on chemically induced electricity is great, especially in comparison to the current fuel source we use today; however, the perks it offers for the environement are rendered useless if it takes just as many, or more, fossil fuels to produce hydrogen as we are using now to run our cars. Not to mention, that the cost to own these vehicles is nearly double that of an electric car, it takes about ten minutes to refuel them, and there are very few refueling stations that exist for them. In short, why spend more money on building new refueling stations, pay $60,000 for a car that’s energy source still uses fossil fuels, and take ten minutes out of your day to reuel that car when we can opt for a car that costs half the price, is even better for the environment, and has more charging stations within access of people already?

  • Michael Rogers

    Just as with ethanol and all-electric cars, the analysis required is how much energy input does it require to deliver one mile of progress to the wheels of a passenger car or freight truck. The calculation needs to include ALL of the supporting systems required to create and deliver the fuel to the vehicle, and then include the efficiency of the conversion of the fuel to motive power.
    The challenge remains that the energy density and conversion of petroleum-based fuels represents a high barrier to overcome, given the amount of usable energy contained in a gallon of petroleum. Petroleum fuels are relatively heavy, and the energy content per pound of fuel is impressive. Hydrogen unfortunately is quite light, with a modest calorific content per kilo.
    And then we come to the mythical zero-emission part of the equation. Electric cars are only zero emission at the tail pipe. The generation of the electricity required to refuel (recharge) electric cars transfers the pollution from the car to the point of generation of the electricity, which in turn should include the total cost to extract, transport and consume the fuel used to generate the electricity.
    All along this chain of extraction. generation, transmission, storage, and consumption we should get a comparable figure of which is the best option for fueling our vehicles.
    As long as we use any kind of fossil fuel burning, the pollution ends up in somebody’s back yard, and everybody’s atmosphere.

  • Bruce Ferrell

    The article only mentions hydrocarbon reforming. while this is a common method of obtaining H2, an older and not until recently useful method is hydrolysis. This uses electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. What makes this useful in current contexts is cheap electricity from photovoltaic panels and wind energy; both of these tend to produce more energy than can be used right away. Use of hydrolysis allow this excess to be conveniently stored until needed.

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California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a leading scientific and cultural institution based in San Francisco. It is home to an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and research and education programs, which engage people of all ages and backgrounds on two of the most important topics of our time: life and its sustainability. Founded in 1853, the Academy’s mission is to explore, explain and sustain life. Visit www.calacademy.org for more information.

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