Summary of findings
Our conclusion was that the cobalt-phosphate compound helped increase the final efficiency of electrolysis, thus making electrolysis more reliable. Unlike the normal water splitting process, using the cobalt nitrate, we helped lower the voltage of the product thus making it more effective. Our experiment has also proved that platinum catalyst are not necessarily needed. Simple, cheaper alternatives can now be experimented with. This will open up a world of possibilities in terms of cost effective alternate ways to produce hydrogen gas.
Many people have been researching on the uses of Hydrogen Fuel cells. One way to obtain hydrogen is through the process of electrolysis which is what we are investigating on. By improving the efficiency of this process of electrolysis, we might be able to successfully use hydrogen fuel as an alternate fuel source which is much cleaner and more effective than fossil fuels.
Fuel cells are a promising technology for use as a source of heat and electricity for buildings, and as an electrical power source for electric motors propelling vehicles. Fuel cells operate best on pure hydrogen. But fuels like natural gas, methanol, or even gasoline can be reformed to produce the hydrogen required for fuel cells. Some fuel cells even can be fueled directly with methanol, without using a reformer.
One use for such fuel cells are hydrogen powered cars. These fuel cells converts hydrogen to electricity, giving off only heat and water as byproducts. (Christopher Lampton, 2009) Because it's non-polluting, hydrogen seems like the ideal fuel for the 21st century. Especially since fossil fuels are dominant in energy production. The hydrogen fuel has a lot of potential since it is almost limitless, and also it can be used as a green, renewable energy source.
In the future, hydrogen could also join electricity as an important energy carrier. An energy carrier moves and delivers energy in a usable form to consumers. Renewable energy sources, like the sun and wind, can't produce energy all the time. But they could, for example, produce electric energy and hydrogen, which can be stored until it's needed. Hydrogen can also be transported (like electricity) to locations where it is needed. (2014, Renewable Energy World)
Hydrogen fuel, being a cleaner source of energy is also a benefit. It burns cleanly, meaning that is does not, or gives off little toxic gases that can contribute to the greenhouse effect which causes global warming which is becoming a prevalent recently with signs such as increased in temperature throughout the world and effects on both humans and other wildlife.
By using Hydrogen fuel we can use less or hopefully even avoid using fossil fuels as they are bad for the environment and is not able to sustain itself on a human time-frame; also known as non-renewable energy.
Areas for further study
Further study can be done to see how we can introduce Hydrogen Fuel cells as an alternate form of energy. We can do this by conducting an experiment to see how a car runs on fuel compared to a hydrogen car. By doing this we can evaluate the effectiveness of using Hydrogen Fuel as an alternate source of energy.
Also, with our proof that many other metal catalysts can be used for water splitting, we can experiment with many other materials such as Iron, Nickel etc. By experimenting with most of the elements in the periodic table, there is a chance we might discover the best efficient metal catalyst to create groundbreaking hydrogen fuel cells.
We could perhaps use similar apparatus for the above set of experiments, conducting the experiment in a similar fashion, however changing the materials used such as Iron and other metals if we were to test the efficiency of a type of metal in electrolysis. Similarly if we were to test the efficiency of a catalyst we will keep the metal constant and test the catalyst.
Summary of Findings
Our results have proven our hypothesis of 'the sleeker the shape, the faster the speed'. Our fastest shape is the airfoil, which is shaped like a blade and our slowest shape is the Humvee and the block, which has a bluff body which creates a lot of aerodynamic drag, thus reducing speed, unlike the airfoil which has a sleek, streamlined body which allows the air to flow through more easily, reducing drag and increasing the overall speed of the car. Our results matches the general shape of sports cars used today (Shelaan, 2014)
Since the development of the automobile until now engineers are constantly improving how the cars function be it by improving their engines, fuel consumption, wheel design etc. One of such ways engineers try to improve and study on are the aerodynamics. When a car moves, it pushes against a wall of air to get it out of the way so that the car can move. For several decades, cars have been designed with aerodynamics in mind, and carmakers have come up with a variety of innovations that make cutting through that "wall" of air easier and less of an impact on daily driving.
Improved aerodynamic designs make it easier for the car to pass through air, making shapes that allow them to flow away from the car. Such cars can accelerate more easily as the engine does not have to work as hard to push through the wall of air to reach the desired speed. This also means a better economy as it saves fuel.
Often sports cars such as F1 Race cars and super cars adopt an aerodynamic shape which create the most amount of downforce and the least amount of drag) similar to that of our airfoil design. The air flows through a lot easier meaning that the engines do not work as hard, thus being able to reach it’s highest possible potential (for higher speed ,acceleration and fuel efficiency).
With all these applied, we can improve the speed of navy submarines, vessels, jet plane fighters to protect the country effectively. Since Singapore is reliant on human resources only, we need to boost our army. However, our army vehicles must be fast as some are bulky that they take ages to reach a place. To lessen the risk of danger, they can also adopt the theory of aerodynamic.
Also, with less energy needed to work hard, we can lessen the usage of fossil fuel needed to power the vehicles. The Earth’s remaining fossil fuels are not sufficient for the next generations to come and to conserve energy as much as possible, the vehicles should start to form into sleeker, streamlined shapes and rely mainly on our natural energy (eg aerodynamics rely partially on airflow). For entertainment racing, they can shape borrow from airfoil shape to reach top speed to win a race.
Last but not least we can also test aerodynamics on parachutes, very similar to the science performance task we did last year during secondary one. This experiment is more contrasted to our current experiment as the goal is to find the best shape for the most amount of drag. A parachute is designed to increase the drag of a free falling person such that he does not sustain any injuries while landing. With a parachute, it would help to increase the drag significantly, slowing it to a point where the person can land safely. This time, we will design multiple shapes to see which would increase the amount of drag. We may also use software to see the airflow, such as a virtual wind tunnel (or similar software).