Monday, May 17, 2010

Homework Options 1&2

1. Hydrogen is a chemical element that is the lightest and most abundant element. It is used to power the rockets we send into space. So why do we not harness its power and use it in cars instead of gasoline? The problem as I recognize it is in the storage capacity, because in the gas pressure it is typically stored at it uses four times the space of gasoline even though it is three times lighter. Another problem is pure hydrogen doesn't occur naturally and must be produced mostly by reforming methane gas (CH4). Hydrogen can be spilt from water, but the process is to impractical for conventional use since hydrogen splits from oxygen at a temperature of 2500 C. I don't think hydrogen is a future energy solution because, it is not a energy source like coal or fossil fuels, it is only an energy carrier so we must put energy into it before we can get energy out of it. The only way that hydrogen can become an accurate energy solution is if we can produce it, and get much more energy back that it costs us to produce it such as using solar thermal energy to produce it.

2. Ethanol could easily be used as a fuel source for cars, countries such as Brazil already have laws for there fuels to have at least a 25% mixture of ethanol and 75% gasoline. Also having car that run on pure ethanol. Ethanol as a fuel would be great but effect on other parts of the economy might be seen, such as higher food prices and more land needed to devote to growing agriculture that can be refined in to ethanol like corn. Since corn or some refined variation of it is found in many of the foods that we consume, it may be unrealistic of us to decide to fuel our technologies with our food source. We could literally drive ourselves to starvation if ethanol is a major and widely used fuel source.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure we have to worry about driving ourselves to starvation by expanding the ethanol production, but I agree that it will never be able to fully supply the fuel industry. There are too many other uses for corn and I feel that there will be a more effective solution in the near future.
    Ryan Harris