In the race to turn all cars green, real car enthusiasts have been left a lap behind.
Electric vehicles just don’t have what real car guys want.
That’s why car enthusiasts are fired up about this new method of making hydrogen less expensive and more efficient.
When it comes to making cars greener, there are two roads to travel.
Electric Vehicles (re: Bidenmobiles) are king of the green road – for now
Of course, the most widely known, and certainly most prevalent are the battery-powered Bidenmobiles.
Despite the numerous issues with Bidenmobiles, most major auto manufacturers are making the switch.
And this leaves muscle car enthusiasts, gearheads, and car aficionados in the dust.
Real car guys just can’t go for Bidenmobiles that don’t have the power, durability, and speed car enthusiasts are looking for.
And there is just something about the sound of a muscle car or sports car as they reach top end speeds that can’t be imitated by Bidenmobiles.
Honestly, Bidenmobiles take all of that excitement and remove it from the equation.
And that doesn’t even touch on the other problem with Bidenmobiles.
They’ve been known to randomly catch fire, they must be charged frequently and for long periods of time, and the battery life is too short (not to mention batteries run in the – sometimes tens of – thousands of dollars).
And there are real questions if Bidenmobiles really help the environment that much.
Charging stations run on fossil fuels, and the raw materials that make up the batteries for Bidenmobiles are mined mainly in third world countries with no safeguards or controls over environmental damage.
Hydrogen is the road less traveled
The second type of greener car is the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
They have already been shown to be less polluting than gasoline-powered vehicles, but the processes to make hydrogen can be very expensive.
But now new ways to make hydrogen are coming to light in a new University of Michigan study.
Researchers say they have found a way to make hydrogen production not only greener but also cheaper.
This is great news for car enthusiasts as hydrogen powered cars are much more like their gas-powered cousins.
We already know that hydrogen is a great alternative to petroleum for use in internal combustion engines.
Multiple studies have shown it is a very green fuel at the tailpipe, and it won’t take much at all to convert current cars to run on the naturally occurring element.
The problem is how we source hydrogen in the amount we need right now.
Currently hydrogen is produced in a few ways, like electrolysis (using electricity to separate hydrogen and oxygen from water molecules) or from natural gas.
Both of these methods have some major drawbacks, not the least of which is the high cost.
But according to news posted by FuelCellWorks, the University of Michigan has come up with a very efficient and cost-effective way to use the sun to create hydrogen.
Better than Mother Nature?
The new process is called artificial photosynthesis, and while the idea isn’t new, the University of Michigan experiment shows real promise in efficiency, some say even more efficient than nature’s own process.
The process of making hydrogen involves semiconductor catalysts, and it requires heat.
The only problem was, the heat required was too much for current semiconductors to handle.
But it turns out there was another solution to the problem – shrinking the semiconductor.
“We reduced the size of the semiconductor by more than 100 times compared to some semiconductors only working at low light intensity,” said Peng Zhou, a University of Michigan computer and electrical engineering research fellow and first author of this study.
The Michigan team also used “self-healing” semiconductor technology and tested the process on a light source 160 times more powerful than sunlight on earth.
It efficiently uses part of the incoming light to heat the water and the other to split the water molecules—that means more hydrogen to harvest and a big boost in overall efficiency.
The theory being good, University of Michigan researchers decided to test it in real life, both outside and inside.
In the outdoor real world test, this artificial photosynthesis was able to achieve a 6.1 percent efficiency in its conversion of water into hydrogen.
This is almost 10 times more efficient than solar water-splitting experiments.
When they took the experiment indoors, it increased its efficiency to 9 percent.
The next step is to improve its efficiency even more and increase the purity of the hydrogen.
If they can do that, it will allow this form of artificial photosynthesis to feed hydrogen directly into fuel cells and reduce the extra energy use and costs involved with that process.
And that has real car guys fired up.