The industry widely agrees that fuel cells will power at least some of tomorrow's vehicles, but a big question remains: Which fuel will be used to produce the hydrogen that is the key to fuel-cell power?
Fuel cells make electricity by splitting the electrons and protons in hydrogen and recombining them with oxygen.
Virtually any hydrocarbon fuel, including methanol or gasoline, can be used to produce the hydrogen, say Paul Berlowitz and Charles Darnell, Exxon Corp. researchers.
Berlowitz and Darnell will compare fuel-cell options in a presentation March 6 at the SAE 2000 World Congress in Detroit. They will participate in a day-long technical session, 'Fuel Cell Power Transportation,' that will include 14 presentations on the technology and fuel-processing issues.
The industry has lined up behind fuel-cell technology because of its promise of clean-emissions power. Automakers want to have fuel-cell vehicles in operation by 2004.