Last night, while watching Living Green with Ed (Begley Jr.), he visited Jay Leno's plethora of vehicles in Los Angeles and they discussed the hydrogen fuel cell and its future for vehicles. Jay mostly made fun of Ed, most likely because he's a comedian, but their discussion made me think, Wow, look at what happened to the Hindenberg!
For the youngsters out there, the Hindenberg blew up in May of 1937 over the shores of New Jersey and yes kiddies, it was powered by hydrogen. Designers did look at helium first, because it was safer (duh!). But, since it was so expensive, more so than human lives I guess, they decided on hydrogen. A total of 36 people lost their lives on this day; 22 crew members, 13 passengers and 1 of the ground crew.
Before you quit reading this and decide to leave me a nasty comment, I really did look into the pros and cons of hydrogen fuel cells and if they are really safe for the future of powering cars. For the pro side of hydrogen fuel cells, I relied on the Union of Concerned Scientists, who offered up their pros and cons; however, none of them included the hydrogen fuel cell causing blow ups or fires. For the con side, I found a lot of information on How Stuff Works and the conclusions here frankly gave me much pause.
The Pros The way hydrogen fuel cells work is a relatively simple idea. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, "a fuel cell produces electricity directly from the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen....Continued