The automaker thinks it can do a lot more with hydrogen fuel cells than power cars, including running military bases.
While automakers are pursuing fuel cell-powered cars, hydrogen fuel cells remain a niche way of powering zero-emissions vehicles. General Motors thinks it can do better. On Thursday, the company announced plans to expand its electrification strategy with its Hydrotec fuel cell brand.
GM wants to use its Hydrotec technology to create hydrogen fuel cell generators for a bunch of different applications. The big one is a mobile electric car charging station. The idea is to station a Hydrotec generator to power EV chargers, so the entire process creates zero emissions and the charger can move from place to place.
The company also revealed plans for what it calls an Empower rapid charger. This would give retail charging stations the ability to add DC fast-charging points without expanding the electrical grid. The generator can handle charging four vehicles at the same time, at rates up to 150 kilowatts.
GM plans to work with various partners to begin real-world tests of the application by the middle of this year. For EV drivers, tests will take place with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for demonstrations. The California Energy Commission is also funding demonstrations for the technology. On the retail side, Renewable Innovations will collaborate with GM to bring the Empower rapid chargers to the US. Right now, the two plan for 500 deployments across the country by the end of 2025.
The automaker also sees Hydrotec generators as a quiet and efficient way to power military installations. GM and GM Defense are in the process of designing a "palletized" version of the generator. The US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center will evaluate the technology closely. The prototype generates 60 kW, 70% more than traditional diesel generators, and creates water as a byproduct. The water could also be repurposed within a military camp, GM said.