The world is moving faster than ever. People are getting richer. Everyone’s spending power is becoming higher. Cars nowadays are very affordable and it is almost a necessity for every household to have a car. Cars are one of the main air polluters on Earth (CA.gov, Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Automotive Repair, 2010) (Refer to Figure 2). As the number of cars on our roads increases every day (Refer to Figure 1) (Naked Capitalism, 2014), more fuel would be burnt in order to allow cars to run. As fuels are burnt, carbon dioxide is produced. The amount of trees and plants on the planet is not enough to remove carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the atmosphere fast enough. Air pollution in many countries are becoming from bad to worst. Global warming is on going at an alarming rate. The world is experiencing the impacts of air pollution and global warming everywhere. An example of these impacts would include the melting of the polar ice caps (National Snow & Ice Data Centre, 2014). As such, people have been trying to find alternative energy sources. Recently, they have discovered a new source of energy, hydrogen. Hydrogen is the simplest element. An atom of hydrogen consists of only one proton and one electron. It's also the most plentiful element in the universe. Despite its simplicity and abundance, hydrogen doesn't occur naturally as a gas on the Earth - it's always combined with other elements. Water, for example, is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O) (Renewable Energy world.com, 2014). Thus, scientists have created a vehicle called Fuel Cell Vehicle (also known as a hydrogen car).
Figure 1 - Number of cars over (Naked Capitalism, 2014)
Figure 2 - Sources of Air Pollution (CA.gov, Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Automotive Repair, 2010)
Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV).
A Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) (refer to Figure 3 Below) is a type of vehicle which uses a fuel cell to power its on-board electric motor. Fuel cells in vehicles create electricity to power an electric motor, generally using oxygen from the atmosphere and hydrogen. Fuel cell vehicles that are fuelled with only hydrogen, emit only few pollutants, mainly water and heat. The type of fuel cells that cars uses are the Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC).
The proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) uses a water-based, acidic polymer membrane as its electrolyte, with platinum-based electrodes. PEMFC (refer to Figure 4 below) cells operate at relatively low temperatures (below 100 degrees Celsius) and can tailor electrical output to meet dynamic power requirements. Due to the relatively low temperatures and the use of precious metal-based electrodes, these cells must operate on pure hydrogen (FuelCellToday, 2014).
PEMs are well-suited to power applications where quick startup is required, such as automobiles or forklifts. PEM systems are available today for a variety of applications, with sales focused in the telecommunications, data centre and residential markets (primary or backup power), and to power forklifts and other material handling vehicles. PEM fuel cells are also used in buses and demonstration passenger vehicles. PEMs are fuelled with hydrogen gas, methanol, or reformed fuels (Fuel Cells 2000, 2014).
Although fuel cell vehicle is already invented, it is however not common to see a fuel cell vehicle on the road as fuel cell vehicles are regarded as non-cost efficient. Thus we would like to find out how efficient the car is, using a time-velocity graph and weights, to find out whether this form of energy is sustainable in the future and whether it is worth the time to invest in this technology.
Figure 3 - Fuel Cell Car (Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. , 2014)
Figure 4 - PEMFC (FuelCellToday, 2014)
The dependent variable is:
The number of 50 g weights added to the cart which is attached to the car.
The independent variable is:
- The amount of downforce the car experiences.
- The amount of power needed to allow the car to move.
The constants are:
- The terrain the car would be moving on during the experiment.
- The conditions of the terrain the car would be moving on.
- The distance the car will travel each time.
- The amount of hydrogen gas in the car. 3 ml of water, 2 ml of hydrogen for a full tank
- The model of the car used during the experiment.