Countermeasures to Automobile-Exhaust Pollution

Topics: Automobile, Hydrogen vehicle, Fuel cell Pages: 8 (2665 words) Published: March 13, 2014
Countermeasures to Automobile-Exhaust Pollution
The world motor vehicle population exceeds 1 billion units at the moment. These vehicles are used for transportation of people and products across various places around the world. As a result, they emit many pollutants. This is attributable to the action of their engines burning fuel to release energy, which is an inefficient process. Firstly, they release particulate matter consisting of both organic and inorganic substances into the atmosphere, through exhaust emissions. Secondly, they release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which have carcinogenic effects. Pollution from vehicles is a universally acknowledged problem. However, it varies depending on the nation and its population. For example, pollution from cars contributes to between 50 to 90 percent of the total in urban areas. This may not be the same for rural areas. However, motor vehicles still present a disadvantage to the environment and human life. It is, therefore, prudent to develop countermeasures to automobile-exhaust pollution.

Most of the world’s vehicles are operated on conventional hydrocarbons such as diesel and gasoline. By switching to fuel that maintains less pollution, the environmental impact of vehicles can be minimized. An alternative fuel technology that has the potential to meet this challenge is fuel cells. In this technology, hydrogen has maintained the best promise as a candidate to replace petroleum-based fuels. This technology utilizes hydrogen gas to create electricity. This electrical energy is converted to mechanical energy through an electric motor, which makes the wheels of an automobile to rotate. In this process, the emissions developed are pure water, Carbon (IV) Oxide and various oxides of nitrogen. This emissions are attributable to difficulties in storage and commercial production. Despite the release of oxides of carbon and nitrogen into the air, hydrogen fuel cells have a smaller footprint on the environment, when compared to conventional gasoline engines. However, such inefficiencies can be eliminated through use of concrete, as researched by a study at the University of Eindhoven (Yirka npp). The easiest method for manufacturing hydrogen gas at the moment requires mining fossil fuels, which has an environmental impact in its own right. However, new production techniques such as bacteria and biomass waste are expected to become conventional in the coming years. This will reduce the environmental impact of fuel cells, since the technology will lower oxides released into the air (Katsuhiko 3371). A hydrogen fuel cell works by the introduction of hydrogen at the cathode and oxygen at the anode. In the process, water is released out. Anions and cations from the cell are harnessed at the respective terminals, and energy is released. Hydrogen has a high energy content of around 150MJ/Kg or 61,100 BTUs per pound. This exceeds gasoline and its 20,900 BTUs of energy per pound. High energy content implies that less fuel is required to maintain the same amount of power in engines, or to travel the same distances. Similarly, it has a higher efficiency when used in combustion engines. Advanced hybrid engines such as that of the Prius maintain an efficiency of about 40% (Potera 38). However, hydrogen has an efficiency of about 75% when used as the lone source of fuel. This efficiency means that greater distances can be covered with less consumption of energy. However, introduction of additional hydrogen fuel cell cars has been hampered by infrastructural issues. There are limited facilities that allow fuelling to conventional commuters within their localities (Katsuhiko 3369). There are many electric cars (EVs) on modern roads. Examples may be seen from Tesla’s roadster and the Nissan Leaf car. These vehicles release virtually no emissions to the environment, therefore are a solution to automobile-exhaust problems. This is attributable to their engines, which do not burn fossil fuels...

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