Automakers have invested big bucks in fuel cells over the past few years, and they’d probably be glad to find some viable applications for the technology. GM is developing ways to apply its Hydrotec fuel cell technology to power generation.
GM is planning multiple Hydrotec-based power generators, all powered by GM’s Generation 2 Hydrotec fuel cell power cubes, including:
- A Mobile Power Generator (MPG) to provide fast-charge capability for EVs without installing permanent charge points
- The Empower rapid charger to help retail fuel stations add DC fast charging without a grid connection
- A palletized MPG to quietly power military camps and installations
GM proposes that fuel cell generators could be a zero-emission replacement for gas- and diesel-burning generators at places where grid power is unavailable, such as work sites, movie sets, and outdoor concerts and festivals. They could also provide backup power during outages.
The new Hydrotec-based generators provide power output ranging from 60 to 600 kilowatts.
“Our vision of an all-electric future is broader than just passenger vehicles or even transportation,” said Charlie Freese, GM Executive Director of the Hydrotec business. “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.”
GM is supplying Hydrotec fuel cell power cubes to Utah-based Renewable Innovations to build the Mobile Power Generator. GM will combine its fuel cell hardware and software with Renewable Innovations’ power integration and management systems to create a generator that can provide off-grid fast charging capability for EVs. Multiple development projects involving the MPG are in progress, and GM expects to present a demonstration in mid-2022.
Renewable Innovations is also working with GM on the Empower rapid charger, which is intended to help retail fuel stations add DC fast charging capability without the need for electrical infrastructure upgrades. The Empower rapid charger is powered by eight GM Hydrotec power cubes, and can charge up to four vehicles simultaneously at 150 kW. Its internal tanks contain enough hydrogen for about 100 charges. Renewable Innovations hopes to deploy 500 of the chargers across the country by the end of 2025.
A separate, palletized version of the MPG is aimed at defense customers. The US Army is currently evaluating the technology. The prototype is equivalent in size to a 60 kW diesel generator, and produces nearly 70 percent more power. It features battery backup and output regulation, and emits water, which can be captured and repurposed in the field.