Over the past decade, most of the world’s major automakers have expended a lot research dollars and engineering resources on developing vehicles that burn hydrogen. While advocates like the idea of using hydrogen as an energy carrier because it’s the most abundant element in the known universe and it can be used without emitting toxic or greenhouse gas emissions (disregarding, for the moment, any emissions from producing the hydrogen), not everyone agrees on how to use it. There are two basic approaches to using hydrogen in vehicles: the proton exchange membrane (PEM, also called polymer electrolyte membrane) fuel cell and the classic internal combustion engine (ICE).
While some automakers, notably Ford, have experimented with both approaches, most OEMs have chosen one direction or the other. Aside from Ford, the only other automakers making any significant effort with hydrogen ICEs are BMW and Mazda. Pretty much everyone else working with hydrogen has gone fuel cell. Why go one direction or the other? Read on after the jump to find out.
Greenlings: Why choose a fuel cell or an internal combustion engine when using hydrogen? originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Thu, 20 Aug 2009 11:56:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.