Agriculture
Watching out for vultures
New Gene Fights Potato Blight
Got Milk? How?
Amphibians
Poison Dart Frogs
Tree Frogs
Newts
Animals
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
From Chimps to People
Copybees
Behavior
Listen and Learn
Wired for Math
Hitting the redo button on evolution
Birds
Parrots
Cardinals
Penguins
Chemistry and Materials
Sticky Silky Feet
The hottest soup in New York
Supergoo to the rescue
Computers
Two monkeys see a more colorful world
New eyes to scan the skies
Lighting goes digital
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Message in a dinosaur's teeth
The man who rocked biology to its core
Ferocious Growth Spurts
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Earth
Ancient Heights
A Volcano Wakes Up
Petrified Lightning
Environment
Fishing for Fun Takes Toll
Will Climate Change Depose Monarchs?
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Finding the Past
Chicken of the Sea
Little People Cause Big Surprise
Childhood's Long History
Fish
Tiger Sharks
Salmon
Cleaning Up Fish Farms
Food and Nutrition
A Pepper Part that Burns Fat
The mercury in that tuna
The Color of Health
GSAT English Rules
Adjectives and Adverbs
Who vs. Whom
Problems with Prepositions
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Tarrant High overcoming the odds
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
How are students placed after passing the GSAT exam
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
GSAT Exam Preparation
GSAT Mathematics
How a Venus Flytrap Snaps Shut
Prime Time for Cicadas
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Human Body
From Stem Cell to Any Cell
Taking the sting out of scorpion venom
Remembering Facts and Feelings
Invertebrates
Butterflies
Starfish
Krill
Mammals
Sun Bear
Badgers
Hares
Parents
How children learn
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Physics
Echoes of a Stretched Egg
Powering Ball Lightning
Gaining a Swift Lift
Plants
Making the most of a meal
City Trees Beat Country Trees
When Fungi and Algae Marry
Reptiles
Pythons
Sea Turtles
Geckos
Space and Astronomy
Planet Hunters Nab Three More
Cool as a Jupiter
A Planet's Slim-Fast Plan
Technology and Engineering
Drawing Energy out of Wastewater
Squeezing Oil from Old Wells
Spinach Power for Solar Cells
The Parts of Speech
Pronouns
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
What is a Preposition?
Transportation
How to Fly Like a Bat
Robots on the Road, Again
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
Weather
Either Martians or Mars has gas
The solar system's biggest junkyard
A Dire Shortage of Water
Add your Article

Revving Up Green Machines

People love their "zoom, zoom." In the United States alone, 17 million new cars hit the road in 2004. But the freedom to travel anywhere, anytime in a car or truck comes at a price. And it's not just the cost of gasoline, insurance, and repairs. Automobiles are a major source of pollution. Most cars burn gasoline, which releases carbon dioxide gas into the air, along with other particles and pollutants. To help counter soaring gas prices and reduce air pollution, researchers are looking into new ways to make cars run more efficiently with less impact on the environment. Some environmentally friendly "green" cars already on the street use a mixture of gas and electricity. When such a hybrid vehicle stops, its gas engine shuts down and an electric motor powered by batteries takes over. When the car speeds up, the engine starts, moving the car and recharging the batteries. At high speeds, the gas engine and electric motor operate together. More futuristic technologies involve the use of hydrogen as a fuel. Some companies have already built vehicles that run on hydrogen, but many obstacles remain before you'll see a lot of hydrogen-powered cars on the road and hydrogen filling stations where you can refuel. Hydrogen power Getting energy out of hydrogen to power a car involves a device called a fuel cell. A molecule of hydrogen consists of two hydrogen atoms. In a typical fuel cell, a metal such as platinum splits up hydrogen molecules. The process releases electrons, which generate an electric current that can be used to run a motor. The hydrogen atoms, which have each lost an electron, combine with oxygen from the air in another part of the fuel cell. When two hydrogen atoms combine with one oxygen atom, the result is a molecule of water (H2O). So, the only "waste" product is water. That's pretty clean! Hydrogen is an appealing carrier of energy, says Nathan Glasgow. He's a consultant at the Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, Colo. The element is light, stable, and highly abundant, he says. Getting a good supply of hydrogen, however, is harder than you might think. The problem is that most hydrogen on Earth is attached to something else, mainly carbon or oxygen. It takes a lot of energy to break apart water and other molecules to get the hydrogen out. This energy usually comes from burning oil or coal, which produces lots of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. It might be better, for example, to use wind power instead of coal or oil to provide the energy to split water. However, the windiest places, such as North Dakota, are far from where most people live. So, the hydrogen would need to be stored and shipped. Right now, there's no system of pipes for transporting hydrogen. And that's a major problem, Glasgow says. "We have to find a way to move it around." Run times Another challenge is getting enough juice from hydrogen to keep a car running for a long time. Right now, a tank of hydrogen can propel a car only about 100 or 150 miles. That means refueling a lot more often than most people would like. Today's fuel cells are also expensive. A fuel-cell-powered car might cost more than 10 times as much as a gas-powered car would cost. And fuel cells wear out faster than gas engines. Typical fuel cells for cars have an operating lifetime of about 1,000 hours of driving time. A gas engine lasts at least 5,000 hours, spread over more than 10 years. Nonetheless, the U.S. government has pledged more than $1 billion toward the effort to improve hydrogen fuel cell technology. Three states—California, Florida, and New York—plan to spend millions in the next 5 years to test electric cars powered by hydrogen and build a network of hydrogen filling stations. A hydrogen pump opened earlier this year in Washington, D.C. There's a long way to go. "We don't think mobile fuel cells are going to come on-line for another 20 years," Glasgow says. New materials In the meantime, scientists and environmentalists are pushing other strategies for making cars that are less harmful to the environment. The Rocky Mountain Institute, for instance, supports a move toward lighter automobiles. The lighter a car, Glasgow says, the less energy (and fuel) that it takes to move it. Think about how much harder it is to walk up stairs with a heavy load. "If your backpack itself weighs 50 pounds, and then you start putting books in, it doesn't make any sense," Glasgow says. Heavy cars are just as inefficient. "You want to move people and cargo," he says. "There's no value added in moving a large, heavy car, too." To make cars lighter and cheaper while keeping their size and strength, Glasgow says, companies are trying out new materials. Extra-light steel, ceramics, aluminum with titanium or magnesium, and other materials borrowed from the aerospace industry are a few examples. One company is now putting lightweight carbon fibers into some of its cars' roofs and hoods to lighten the load. Making automobiles lighter would also be a huge step toward making fuel cells practical when they become cheaper and more readily available, Glasgow says. Future travel For now, hybrid cars that save fuel by running partly on electricity are becoming increasingly popular. So is the use of alternative fuels, such as natural gas and biodiesel, which can come from vegetable oil, animal fat, or recycled restaurant grease. There might be even more options available by the time you get your learner's permit, if you haven't started driving already. And, in another generation or so, you could be zooming around in a hydrogen-fueled car.

Revving Up Green Machines
Revving Up Green Machines








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™