We should use alternate energy solutions

By Paul Cruse III

President Obama and Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geither unveiled their stimulus package last week, and Wall Street had the nerve to scoff at it, as if they didn’t need it. That’s like the damsel in distress sending back the knight who tried to rescue her because his armor had a scratch on it. Because Wall Street is going to pretend like they are doing us a favor, I propose a new economic stimulus package that leaves them out.

I propose that we invest heavily in alternative energy, specifically for automobiles. The most viable alternative is hydrogen powered internal combustion vehicles. A hydrogen power internal combustion automobile has similar mechanics as present-day vehicles, but instead of being powered by the combustion of gasoline, its powered by the combustion of hydrogen.

How do we get hydrogen you ask? I am no chemical engineer, but from what I have found, there seems to be numerous ways to get it. One simple way is to take it out of water. We do this by sending a strong electric current through the H2O, separating the “H2” from the “O.” That hydrogen is then put into a fuel tanks similar to gas tanks. Because the engines operate similarly, you get almost identical power, feel, sound and fuel-mileage as current automobiles.

This answers a lot of the problems brought up by car “aficionados” and “gear-heads.” Many did not want to give up the roar of they’re V8’s for the Golf-Cart-like “hum” of most electric cars. The similarity in design also makes the transition, from producing gas-powered engines to hydrogen-powered engines, smoother for the car manufacturers. Companies such as BMW, Volkswagen, Mazda, Toyota and Ford have already rolled out hydrogen based car models; some models are already in their 6th and 7th generation.

You are probably wondering how this helps the economy? This type of change would require the government to invest billions into building a new hydrogen fuel cell station infrastructure. In addition, the car makers would also have to start hiring again to help build these new machines. That type of large project would equate to millions of jobs for Americans.

American consumers could then be swayed to buy these new automobiles because they run on water (basically). The increase in purchases would also help stimulate the economy. Not to mention, it would cost American drivers far less at the pump; they would spend pennies per gallon instead of dollars, saving Americans hundreds each month.

These cars also help the environment. Studies have shown that the only thing coming out of these hydrogen cars is harmless water vapors. Some studies show the air coming out is actually cleaner than the air coming in.

Not only are we creating jobs and protecting the environment, we are also freeing ourselves from oil. No matter if you are Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, supporter of the war or anti-war, you can not deny that oil was partially a reason why we went to Iraq (how big of a part is arguable).

There are some who have issues with using hydrogen. Many people are concerned with the stability and safety of the fuel source.

Many associate the word hydrogen with hydrogen bomb or the Hindenburg. But the experts from the National Hydrogen Association and the Department of Energy say that hydrogen is actually safer than gasoline in most cases.

Hydrogen requires more energy to ignite at low concentrations. A recent experiment ignited two cars: one hydrogen powered, one gas powered. 100 seconds after ignition, all the hydrogen had escaped out of the fuel tank, without damaging the interior of the car. And because hydrogen is lighter than air and diffuses more quickly than natural gas, the highest temperature in the car was 67 degrees! Meanwhile the gas-powered car burst into flames.

By converting to hydrogen powered cars, you kill four birds with one stone. You create jobs, stimulate the economy, free us from our dependence on foreign oil and clean the environment.

Paul is a senior in computer and political science, and encourages you to visit Hydrogenroadtour.com, HydrogenAssociation.org or just Google the topic.