Fossil fuel is the main source of power in the modern human civilization. The carbon deposits which were preserved over millions of years, has transformed in to carbon and hydrogen chemical structure called fossil fuel. There are various kind of fossil fuel categorized based on number of carbon atoms in its structure which are having various applications. Significant part of the fossil fuel engines power up transportation and generate electricity for human needs. According to the increasing need with expanding industries and population the fossil fuel deposits are reducing in a greater speed than its regeneration. Therefore the human civilization has to shift to an alternative power source by 2050 and all the fossil fuel deposits will be over by 2100. In addition to that fossil fuel engine generates harmful by products including carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Due to that there is a serious health and environmental issues have occurred. All the above facts demand a new source of power to continue human civilization and modern technological advancement with lesser environmental impact. The big question is Can human civilization continues to have comfortable living conditions without fossil fuel? The answer is changing from NO to YES due to the latest advancement of science and results of research about alternative fuel.
Hydrogen Fuel cell
How It Works
Hydrogen fuel cell is a mechanism to convert hydrogen fuel in to electricity. It uses Hydrogen and Oxygen as input and generates electricity as the output. Most importantly the by product of this reaction is Water (H2O). This mechanism generates electricity using non-fossil fuel with much lesser environmental impact because this is not emitting harmful gases or significant noise. Unlike traditional power cells, hydrogen fuel cell is not a closed system. It generates electricity as long as there is a hydrogen and Oxygen supply.
Advantages and Applications
The next question about hydrogen fuel cell is it efficient? Can it be used to practical applications? As a perfect answer for above questions there are few successful prototypes which are power by Hydrogen fuel cell. That prototype contains house hold electricity generation, automobiles and even advanced military applications like submarines. The greater advantage of Hydrogen fuel cell is there is no moving part it or any fuel burning like in traditional internal combustion engine. Therefore it’s having much lesser energy wastage and highly improved reliability. Due to these advantages several market giants like Toyota, Chrysler and Mercedes-benz are investing huge amount of money on research on Hydrogen fuel cell power automobiles and there are various working prototypes also been introduced as a result. Furthermore some cities already have Hydrogen filling stations and Hydrogen fuel cell powered public transportation.
Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cell
Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe. This advanced usage of Hydrogen as a fuel to generate electricity will become the main source of power in human civilization in near future. In addition to that this fuel will provide electricity as same as fossil fuel and with much lesser environmental impact. When it comes to the automobiles there will be much lesser engine vibrations and noise which lead to even comfortable driving experience.
How It Works
Nuclear power generation is control the nuclear reaction by preventing it lead to an explosion and use its heat to generate electricity. There are two types of nuclear reaction that can be used which are nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. The most common type that can be found in current application is nuclear fission. It generates power by slitting Uranium 235. Nuclear fusion generates power using Hydrogen isotopes same as the way which sun generate its heat. There is no proper mechanism to control nuclear fusion yet. Therefore its practical usages are limited.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The main application of nuclear power is fusion and its fuel is Uranium. Most of the developed countries use this technology to generate electricity. The process can be controlled using reactors. The power generate process is safe, yet in the case of malfunction the consequence can be severe. Furthermore it generates radioactive by products which is very costly to dispose. This technology cannot be used to power up automobiles or air craft due to radioactive fuel used.
The nuclear fusion is still in lab testing level and the reaction is totally modelled by scientists. It generates massive amount of energy with very lesser amount of fuel. But the main problem faced is there are no stable hydrogen isotopes to continue the fusion reaction in a controlled manner. Once it started it will continue to a explosion till the reaction completes. However there are no radioactive fuel used, due to that once the researches manage to stabilise the reaction it can be used to power up automobiles as well as domestic off grid power generation. Furthermore in this case fuel can be included in the automobile in its production and that will be sufficient for its whole life time.
Future of Nuclear Power
Even in Nuclear fission it uses non renewable fuel which is radioactive metal like Uranium. In order to use nuclear power as a long term energy source, the winner is nuclear fusion. Even at this moment many scientists are working to stabilize the reaction and billions of dollars are invested on it. The success of that research will lead to renewable source of pure energy. The fuel which will be use to those reactors will be Hydrogen isotopes which are very common all over the universe.
Considering environmental factors most of the countries are trying to transform natural energy to electricity with very much lesser environmental impact. The most prominent sources used are wing, solar and tidal power. The solar power is widely used in many tropical countries. Those solar panels are available for domestic deployment as well. Due to that is becoming a secondary source of power in tropical countries already. In addition to generation electricity it can be used to heat water and for cooking purposes as well. When it comes to wind power it is widely used in countries which has plan land with lesser geographical details where they can find continues flow of wind throughout the year. There are so many researches done in order to design an efficient wind turbine and it gave successful results. Compared to others tidal wave power generation is in primitive stage yet developing. According to the current situation those sustainable energy can be used a secondary spruces of energy with above mentioned hydrogen fuel cell and nuclear power.
The above facts giving the answer to the big question ‘Can human civilization continues to have comfortable living conditions without fossil fuel?’ and the answer is YES. Future automobiles will be powered by Hydrogen fuel cell and it will give even comfortable driving experience to passengers with much lesser environment impact. In far future the automobiles will be powered by nuclear fusion reactors and passengers won’t even have to worry about the fuel since it’s filled in production and that would be sufficient for its life time. Main grid power will be generated by nuclear fusion and various sustainable sources including solar and wind. Furthermore there will be off grid domestic power generators contain Hydrogen fuel cell or nuclear fusion reactors and those will be portable as well. All the above energy sources are renewable and having minimum environment impact. Therefore mankind will be able to continue a even better comfortable life in a world without fossil fuel.
- eportfolio. (2010). Retrieved August, 2010, from www.eportfolio.lagcc.cuny.edu: http://www.eportfolio.lagcc.cuny.edu/scholars/doc_fa08/eP_Fa08/Farhana.Khonkodar/images/hydrogen-fuel-cell.jpg