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Can hydrogen be the fuel of the future?

Will hydrogen fuel replace fossil fuel?
Will hydrogen fuel replace fossil fuel?
Arctic-Images/Getty Images

When it comes to looking to the energy source that will replace fossil fuels, there are no shortage of options. Solar power, wind energy, ethanol and biofuels are typically the most widely cited contenders to replace petroleum-based combustion engines and coal-fired power plants.

But hydrogen stands apart as a promising alternative energy source. Although the idea of hydrogen as a widely used fuel source to power cars and generate electricity is a relatively new concept in response to seeking an alternative to oil, hydrogen fuel cells actually predate the internal combustion engine, which was invented in the middle of the 19th century, by about 20 years.

Given that the most basic form of this technology has been around for nearly 150 years, why has its time suddenly come?