Friday, September 16, 2005

Is hydrogen fuel cell technology really the answer to our energy woes?

I think science really needs to think this technology through before they implement it. I have been doing a little research on hydrogen fuel cell byproducts, and what I've found out makes me concerned for the environment of our cities and suburbs. You're saying to yourself right now, wait a minute, the only byproducts of hydrogen fuel cells are heat and water. Water is harmless, right? We're made up of at least 80 percent water. It's the stuff life!

The problem I forsee is an exponential increase in humidity in cities and immediate areas surrounding cities as hydrogen fuel cell technology becomes common. Exponential? Yes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a vehicle using hydrogen cells puts out 5 ounces of water per car per hour. So, let's say that in one hour 5000 cars commute into your city in the morning. That's 5 ounces times 5000 cars, which equals 25000 ounces or about 195 gallons of water.
(5 x 5000 = 25000/128 [ounces per gallon] = 195.3)

That's 195.3 gallons of water in just one hour of commuting in the morning. The return home will releast an additional 195.3 gallons of water which is a total of about 390 gallons of water. And, that's just your commuter traffic.

That a lot of water. Where is it all going to go? If it is allowed to just evaporate, then that's a whole lot of water added to the atmosphere around a city every day. So what, you say?

I haven't finished the research, yet, but I would imagine that over time the humidity level of the city will increase drastically - like the Palm Springs area after people started building golf courses everywhere. Most places aren't as dry as Palm Springs, so the result of that much added humitity will probably be much more noticeable.

I predict that there will be an increase in respiratory problems because of accelerated mold growth where there used to be almost none, and everyone knows how dangerous mold can be. Increased humidity will also drive asthmatics crazy.

I'm not done thinking this problem through, yet. But there is another avenue to consider. What if the water is allowed to accumulate in the vehicle. Will it be potable? Can you water your plants with it? Will it be the responsibility of the owner of the vehcile to get the water tank siphoned out regularly, like when the fuel cells are changed out? If the water isn't potable, will it be chucked down the drain and allowed to flow into the oceans and rivers? What pollutants will it introduce? Radioactivity? Will we be making mutant sea creatures?

I will find answers to these questions. In fact, I've already pinged the EPA with the question, "Is the water byproduct of hydrogen cells potable?"

Stay tuned and find out.