Environment

Discover Data: How Clean is the Hydogen Fuel Cell?

By Maia WeinstockDec 3, 2003 12:00 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

How Clean is the Hydrogen Fuel Cell?

The Bush administration and automakers are touting fuel-cell vehicles as a nonpolluting technology, but engineers at the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment at MIT say the nonpolluting claim is not necessarily true. The group found that although fuel-cell vehicles would produce zero greenhouse-gas emissions during use, the extraction and refinement of hydrogen fuel would release three to five times as much carbon into the air as is released in procuring and refining gasoline and diesel. A near-future fuel-cell car would not be much cleaner than a well-designed battery-gasoline hybrid. John Heywood, an engineer at MIT, suggests following parallel paths for developing cleaner vehicles. “First, we need to improve standard combustion engines and transmissions so we can reduce energy consumption,” he says. But he also advocates starting work on hydrogen technology because in the long run fuel-cell vehicles that use “clean” hydrogen would reduce emissions. “If we do nothing in the short term with hydrogen, what we might have to do in 2050 will be twice as difficult,” Heywood says.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Magazine Examples
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!

Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.