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ALTERNATE ENERGY: Hydrogen and fuel cells — What's your favorite color?

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In the next few “Alternate Energy” columns, I want to discuss hydrogen. In April 2020 I wrote an intro piece on the subject. Today, I would like to take a closer look and widen the scope of this intrinsically important issue of alternate energy.

Is it feasible? Is it affordable? Is it in practical use today? Why isn’t it in widespread use? And the biggest question: What does the future hold?

Is it feasible? Yes, it is! It has been shown to be useful in many ways to produce energy where other forms of energy cannot be relied upon in its locale such as in space, a hospital or the battlefield.

Is it affordable? Unfortunately, not for average use. Fuel cells are very expensive, not only the cost of the cells themselves but the storage, maintenance and fuel delivery issues.

Is it practical in everyday use? Yes. Many urban buses use fuel cells because they are quiet and produce no toxic fumes.

Why isn’t it in widespread use? The main reason is cost. Another reason is the onboard storage of hydrogen requires high-pressure tanks that are expensive and dangerous in the event of a leak (hydrogen requires only 4% volume to be explosive). Then there is the support infrastructure. There are very few hydrogen filling stations, which are far more expensive than any gasoline filling station. All these vehicles with fuel cells would require a specialized tank and probably an attendant trained to fuel your........

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