21 Jan 2022

General Motors Expands Fuel Cell Business with New Applications

21 Jan 2022  by   

General Motors (GM) is expanding its reach in the hydrogen fuel cell business, having confirmed three new commercial applications for its HYDROTEC technology as it targets heavy-duty trucks, locomotives and aerospace applications.

The motor vehicle manufacturer on Wednesday (Jan 19) confirmed the news, stating that its HYDROTEC-based power generators will soon be powering a Mobile Power Generator (MPG) to fast-charge electric vehicles, an EMPOWER rapid charger for retail fuel stations and a palletised MPG to power military camps and installations.

Offering electric power generation output ranging from 60kW to 600kW, along with low noise and heat signatures, the fuel cell generators could ultimately replace gas- and diesel-burning generators with fewer emissions at worksites, buildings, movie sets, data centres, outdoor concerts and festivals.

Charlie Freese, Executive Director of Global HYDROTEC at General Motors, said, “Our vision of an all-electric future is broader than just passenger vehicles or even transportation.

“Our energy platform expertise with Ultium vehicle architectures and propulsion components and HYDROTEC fuel cells can expand access to energy across many different industries and users, while helping to reduce emissions often associated with power generation.”

Focusing on the electric vehicle market, GM has teamed up with Utah-based Renewable Innovations to deploy its HYDROTEC power cubes in MPGs, providing fast-charging capabilities without having to expand the grid or install permanent charging assets – and the first generator is set to be up and running later this year (2022).

Supporting the project, the California Energy Commission has said it will also fund a separate demonstration programme of four additional MPGs through its Mobile Renewable Backup Generation systems programme to show how hydrogen-based mobile power can help offset the loss of energy during the planned power shutoffs.

Robert Mount, CEO of co-founder of Renewable Innovations, said, “As pioneers and innovators in the hydrogen power space, Renewable Innovations sees exciting opportunities across consumer, business, government and industrial markets.

“We’ve seen that there’s a need for electric vehicle charging in places where there’s no charging equipment, and now we’re committed to bringing the best technology and game-changing applications to market with GM to accelerate the company’s vision of a zero emissions future.”

In addition to the MPG project, GM and Renewable Innovations are also teaming up to enhance direct current (DC) fast charging capabilities at retail fuel stations with an EMPOWER rapid charger, offering more efficient fuelling and a more affordable price.

Powered by eight GM HYDROTEC power cubes, the EMPOWER rapid charger consumes hydrogen from internal tanks and can DC fast charge as many as four vehicles simultaneously starting at 150kW with a target full charge time of 20 minutes. More than 100 electric vehicles can be charged by the rapid charger before the unit needs to be resupplied with hydrogen, making it highly efficient.

Renewable Innovations wants to deploy 500 EMPOWER chargers across the US by the end of 2025.

In its final new application for its HYDROTEC power cubes, GM has designed a separate, palletised version of the MPG which is now being evaluated by US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Centre (GVSC) – and GVSC is even looking at how the technology could power military equipment and camps.

Having developed a prototype palletised MPG, equivalent in size to a 60-kW generator and producing nearly 70% more power than traditional diesel generators, GM hopes to converts off-board, bulk-stored hydrogen to electricity generated with no emissions in operation.

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