Hydrogen Fuel --- the Future's new way of Electricity?

Essay by LightninggtHigh School, 10th gradeA+, June 2004

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Over the past few decades, people around the world have been using fossil fuel, but what about the future? When the world is crowded with pollution, will we keep using fossil fuel? When the world is out of fossil fuel, what would we use? Electricity? Solar energy? What could create a huge amount of energy with unlimited resources and clean exhaust? Fuel cells.

Spacecraft have been using fuel cells since the 1960s, but most of these fuel cells create energy at heats that are too hot to be practical to run. Also, would there be hydrogen cells gas stations? It is also very expensive to have cars and laptops using hydrogen cells. Scientists might have just come up with a solution.

Scientist working at Texas Centre for Superconductivity and Advanced Materials (TcSAM) at the University of Houston overcame the heat obstacle by building "solid oxide" fuel cells that operate at only 500 o C instead of the 1000 o C.

This fuel cell is both cheaper to make and easier to fuel.

Alex Ignatiev, the director of TcSAM, explains that "the thinness cuts down internal resistance to electric current, so we can get comparable power output at much lower operating temperatures." To make this very thin layer, the scientists are not able to take material and start shaving down, but rather grow the electrolyte atom by atom. This process is called epitaxy and it is the process of depositing a layer of atoms at a time. This fuel cell is approximately one thousand atoms thick.

There are six types of fuel cells, and solid-oxide is just one of them. Besides the advantage that solid-oxide can run at a relatively low temperature, it can also run on fuels that are already commonly used, such as methane or gasoline. The other...