Raison d'Être of Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Fuel for Automotive Powerplants 2004-01-0788
The paper presents reportage of the debate on the topic expressed by its title that was held as a special session at the SAE 2003 Congress, supplemented by commentaries on its highlights. The debate brought to focus the fact that fuel cells are, indeed, superb powerplants for automobiles, while hydrogen is at the pinnacle of superiority as the most refined fuel. The problems that remained unresolved, are: (1) when fuel cells will be practically viable to replace internal combustion engines and (2) under what circumstances hydrogen, as the ultimate fuel, will be economically viable in view of its intrinsically high cost and hazards engendered by its extraordinary flammability and explosive tendency. This state of affairs provokes a fascinating question: is there another way to resolve the formidable problems imposed by the exorbitant demand for oil and excessive emission of pollutants imposed upon the automotive technology than abandoning internal combustion engines in favor of fuel cells and replacing hydrocarbons by hydrogen? Some answers to it are provided in the Commentaries.