Term Paper: Hydrogen Fuel as an Alternative Energy Source

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Hydrogen Fuel as an Alternative Energy Source

Hydrogen is one of two natural elements that combine to make water. Hydrogen is not an energy source, but more an energy carrier because it takes a lot of energy to remove it from water. It is helpful as a compact energy source in fuel cells and batteries. There are many companies are working hard in order to develop technologies that can proficiently use the potential of hydrogen energy. Because of increasing fossil fuel prices and uncertainty of energy supplies along with a concern over the effect of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, the role of hydrogen fuel as an alternative energy source is being looked at more intensely (O'Sullivan, 2008).

Hydrogen is the most widespread element in the universe and ranks as the third most abundant element overall. Hydrogen does not exist as a pure component, but exists as part of other compounds, mainly those of water and fossil fuels. Hydrogen is mostly formed from fossil fuel and to a lesser extent by the process of electrolysis using energy that is produced from fossil fuels. Hydrogen is presently produced on an industrial scale by steam reforming natural gas. Hydrogen produced from either fossil fuels or by electrolysis involves a loss of energy and results in high emissions of greenhouse gases (O'Sullivan, 2008).

Energy is present in many forms, such as heat, light, chemical energy, and electrical energy. Energy consists of the capability to bring about change or to do work. The study of energy is known as thermodynamics. The first law of thermodynamics says that energy can be altered from one state to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. The entire amount of energy and matter in the Universe is thought to remain steady. It is thought that it merely changes from one form to another. The First Law of Thermodynamics also states that energy is always preserved. In essence, energy can be converted from one form into another form but never destroyed (Laws of Thermodynamics, 2010).

The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that during all energy exchanges, if there is no energy put into or taken away from the system, the potential energy will remain less than it… [END OF PREVIEW]

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