The Future of Engineering: The Hydrogen-Powered Vehicle

2003 Engineers: Changing the World Essay Contest
1st Place Winner, Gr 6-8

By Elizabeth Ford

I think the hydrogen-powered vehicle will be one of the significant technologies to be developed soon. Ideas for this have already been created, and companies such as General Motors have already made some prototypes. Other companies, such as DaimlerChrysler, Ford, Honda, and Toyota are also using significant amounts of money for research. However, there are still some problems for engineers to work out, such as how to effectively store hydrogen when the cars are not in use. Hydrogen vehicles will greatly affect transportation, the environment, and everyday life when the problems are ironed out. Because everything needed to run the car the fuel cells, air conditioning, heating, etc.) all be situated in the bottom part of the chassis (the part known as the "skateboard"), the top or "body" of the car can be interchangeable. It could be snapped off and replaced with a different one. For instance, you would be able to have a sports car one day and a minivan the next, provided that you wanted them to have approximately the same width and length. This will make cars easier to personalize. The absence of a bulky engine will also result in more legroom and more luggage room. Another reason that is probably the most widely known and of most magnitude is environmental friendliness. Hydrogen is about twice as effective as gasoline, and instead of emitting harmful gases like carbon dioxide, hydrogen-run vehicles (using things called fuel cells) only emit water, heat, and air! Hydrogen is also the most abundant element in the universe, so it won't run out like fossil fuels will. I believe these reasons along with others unforeseen by us today prove that the hydrogen (or fuel cell) cars are going to be an important innovation of the future. It has been predicted that they will probably be mass-produced around 2012. It sounds like it's time to invest in the hydrogen market! Works Cited GM Hy-wire: Major Step Forward In Reinventing Automobile. Retrieved January 16, 2003, from General Motors Corporation web site: Burns, L. McCormick, J. Borroni-Bird, C. (2002), "Vehicle of Change". Scientific American, 287(4), 65-73.