With gas prices nearing two dollars in some parts of the country, some sport utility vehicle owners are forced to pump more than $50 worth of gas into their tank every week. That equals more than $200 a month. Many people's car payment isn't $200 a month. With the oil prices rising and the amount of gasoline in demand climbing each year; people and companies are looking for alternative methods to power cars. Fuel cell powered vehicles may be one strong contender. .
The science of fuel cells is hard for many people to understand. In simple terms, a fuel cell functions similar to a battery. The difference is that fuel cells don't run down or need to be recharged. They produce energy in the form of electricity and heat as long as fuel, such as oxygen and hydrogen, is supplied.
Fuel cells are made up of two electrodes placed on the outside of an electrolyte. As oxygen flows over one electrode and hydrogen over the other electricity; heat and water are produced.
Hydrogen fuel is mixed in on the other side of the cell. When the oxygen and the hydrogen mix, the energy is fed into an electrical circuit which powers the car (Fuel Cells 2000).
The idea of fuel cells dates back to the mid 1800's when British scientist, Sir William Robert Grove first came up with the idea of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen by the use of electricity. Grove's work did not accomplish much until NASA began tests on it in the early 1960s. NASA was looking for an alternative to batteries because they were too heavy. NASA scientists were able to lighten the weigh of the cell enough to use on space travel. Fuel cells have supplied electricity to several space missions over the past 40 years (Fuel Cell Today).
The public demand for fuel cell and hybrid cars is relatively low at the current time. Everyone has a reason not to like them, but many people may not be informed on the amount of waste caused by operating gas powered vehicles.