General Motors announces new commercial applications of its Hydrotec fuel-cell technology, including fixed and mobile rapid chargers for electric vehicles and for use by the military.
Hydrotec projects currently in development include heavy-duty trucks and aerospace and locomotives, but the automaker is expanding the technology for use beyond vehicles for power generation.
GM is planning several new configurations of its zero-emissions Hydrotec-based electric power generators, all powered by Generation 2 Hydrotec fuel-cell power cubes. These include:
- 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 affordable DC fast charging without expanding the grid; and
- A palletized MPG to quietly and efficiently power military camps and installations (pictured, below).
These fuel-cell generators could replace gas- and diesel-burning generators with fewer emissions at worksites, buildings, movie sets, data centers, outdoor concerts and festivals. They could also back up or temporarily replace grid-sourced electricity for residential and small commercial enterprises at times of power disruption, GM says.
“Our vision of an all-electric future is broader than just passenger vehicles or even transportation,” Charlie Freese, GM executive director of the global Hydrotec business, says in a statement. “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.”
Mobile Power Generator
GM is supplying Hydrotec fuel-cell power cubes to Renewable Innovations of Lindon, UT, to build the Mobile Power Generator. GM will combine its fuel-cell hardware and software with Renewable Innovations’ power integration and management systems to develop a generator that can provide fast-charging capability for EVs without having to expand the grid or install permanent charging hardware in places with only a temporary need for power.
Multiple development projects involving the MPG are already in progress, including a demonstration of the technology as a mobile charging station for EVs, funded in part by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center. This first demonstration of the MPG is expected in mid-2022.
Retail EV Charging Stations
In addition to mobile EV charging, GM and Renewable Innovations have collaborated on the Empower rapid charger. Intended to help retail fuel stations add more affordable DC fast-charging capability, Empower will help provide fast charging without significant investment in electrical infrastructure upgrades such as larger feed wires, transformers and potentially new substations.
Empower rapid chargers can be installed at existing fuel stations or along corridors frequented by travelers only part of the year, such as near national parks or vacation destinations, GM says.
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 150 kW with an estimated full-charge time of 20 minutes. More than 100 EVs can potentially be charged by Empower before the rapid charger would need to be resupplied with hydrogen.
Renewable Innovations plans to deploy 500 Empower rapid chargers across the country by the end of 2025.
Palletized Mobile Power Generator System
GM has designed a separate, palletized version of the MPG which is being evaluated by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center. The center is also exploring how this version of the MPG can power heavy-duty military equipment and camps. The prototype, powered by a Hydrotec power cube, is equivalent in size to a 60-kW generator and produces nearly 70% more power than traditional diesel generators, GM says.
GM will produce Hydrotec fuel-cell systems at its Fuel Cell Systems Manufacturing joint venture with Honda in Brownstown, MI. Renewable Innovations will produce the trailer-based MPG and the larger, modular Empower rapid charger at its facilities in the Salt Lake City area.