How about working on processes to generate hydrogen via low energy input?
After years of reading articles and a limited amount of home-experimentation, I've reached several conclusions about fuel cells and their capability of powering automobiles, for example. First, one must define the problem. In my opinion, the primary issue is CO2 emission (which the US seems quite disinterested in) reduction and the secondary issue is the finite resource issue. My conclusions are:
1. Using an energy balance, there is little or no benefit in the use of a fuel cell. The only benefit is an artificial benefit in that the end user (ie the person heating their home or the driver of a car) does not emit CO2. However, the provider (energy company) emits an equivalent amount or even more CO2 in generating the hydrogen. The only country positioned for a potential fuel cell market is France (80 % of their energy comes from nuclear plants).
2. The "efficiency" of a fuel cell is actually about equivalent to that of a diesel internal combustion engine (~35 %). Many authors will bluff you by neglecting losses in the fuel cell. Read the books "Fuel Cell Systems Explained" and "Fuel Cell Technology Handbook".
You might as well start experimenting with anti-matter, because the energy balance indicates fuel cells won't replace gasoline engines. If they do, it will be due to marketing, not physics. As for the bicycles powered by H2, again physics comes into play. Each year there is a race in the Nevada desert. It was described in a recent journal of Scientific American. Pedal-powered bicycles can reach 80 mph. The key is the knowledge that above 20 mph, > 80 % of the energy input goes into overcoming air drag.
interesting but have you considered electrolisys by using solar panels, the energy provided by the solar panel would not contribute to the emission of CO2
with the exception of course then the solar panel is produced, but it has in most cases a warranty of 25 years (almost as old as the technology has been in existence), as is every energy process when you think about it, nuclear power, well until researchers perfect a way to get rid of the nuclear waste, the nuclear waste will just continue on accumulating, most nuclear power plnats are running out of space, they are even going through risky methods to maintain the waste, in giant 20 feet by 8 feet cilinders that are placed outside (vulnerable to a missile [as reported in a newspaper in my area recently]), weighting several tons, and a very thick layer of several feet of cement and steel, and that is because the projected construction of a storage facility that was supposed to be made by 2003 or 2005 is running extremely late and there is even an uncertainty that it will ever be finished (it was supposed to store all the nuclear waste from all the plants in the US, most every plant will either have to minimize energy production on the energy hungry society, or stop function all together). other sources would all produce CO2
in the process of generating electricity.... well except wind power and hydroelectric power plants but there are some other issues along there too, such as space and environmental obstructions, thought i admit after seeing some wind generators i was impressed at the amount of electricity that a single system is capable of producing, but the cost was also high. fuel cells are amongst the most efficient systems around, not 30% (the fact that platinum is used as a catalyst increases the speed that hydrogen is produced from water, and never gets used up) but actually there are several different kinds of fuel cells, some with higher efficiency and some, well they will produce CO2
but will yield more energy then almost any other CO2
emitting process. the point is that there is not system that is perfect but there are some systems that will prove to be more beneficial than other systems in the long run, some systems which will have a high price tag now but they will end up producing more energy and contributing minimal if no emission into the atmosphere, rememmber that the point is not in reducing the CO2
there is actually some confusion about that matter, the fact is that CO2
is actually required to maintaing life, the greenhouse effect is required to maintain life, but the elements that cause health hazards and global warming to extraorinary levels is really at what programs like the Kyoto Protocol is really aiming at. a combustion engine will produce carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide as well as sulfur, we are primarily worried about the effect of nitrous oxide on the global warming issue, carbon monoxide and sulfur in the health issue, and sulfur in the fact that it contributes to creating acid rain and destroys several forests and causes fish kill in lakes. CO2
is generally goes through the process called the carbon cycle where the earth will consume the carbon dioxide, as will the plants as a process of generating energy, carbon dioxide contributes to the greenhouse gases but our worry is about too much greenhouse gases not about the greenhouse effect itself, because it actually helps us stay alive by regulating global temperatures between night and day, it traps heat so that we will not face a scenario that is seen in other planets, on one side is several hundreds of degrees celsius but on the other is below freezing temperatures.