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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hydrogen: The Answer to the Rising Cost of Fuel

The unique traits of hydrogen have not escaped the eyes of people who have sought the answer for an alternative fuel that is more effective, and far more abundant in supply. In fact, it was predicted by futurists that by 2010, hydrogen-powered cars will already be in production. During the time this prediction was told, it was deemed bold and it was treated with a lot of incredulity. But because of the numerous advances that are being made year by year, a mass-produced, hydrogen-powered may not be far from being possible. Frank Markus details the advantages of hydrogen in automotive applications in an article in Motor Trend, and here is an excerpt from that article:

Hydrogen to the rescue. This fuel of the future burns so quickly and easily, even in low concentrations, that converting 20 to 30 percent of the gasoline into hydrogen allows the engine to burn all its fuel under ultralean conditions. The carbon monoxide also reacts in the combustion chamber to form carbon dioxide, releasing energy in the process.

And here's a bonus: In the concentrations we're talking about here, hydrogen gas and CO inhibit knock quite effectively. Together, they manage to boost the effective octane rating of the fuel by 20 points (making regular unleaded behave like 107-octane racing fuel). This enables the engine to be heavily turbocharged and/or its compression ratio to be raised by three to four points.

Raising the boost and/or compression ratio of an engine allows it to be downsized dramatically and still achieve the same level of performance, which is how the hydrogen-enabled combustion engine concept derives most of its efficiency. Running an engine with lots of excess air also means the throttle plate stays open farther, so the engine does less work pumping air. Total fuel savings are pegged at 20 percent or better. That's equal to or better than diesel-fuel economy burning quiet, odorless, less-polluting gasoline--and it's all achieved without Alfen waves (whatever they are).