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GM next generation and current fuel cell stacks – Click above for high-res image gallery

Last summer we first saw one of General Motors new fifth-generation fuel cell stacks on display at a powertrain technology event. It was being shown next to the comparable hardware from one of the Project Driveway fuel cell Chevy Equinoxes and the difference in size was startling. The stack is part of what GM refers to as the second-generation system which includes all the elements necessary to implement it in a vehicle. The system consists of the stack, the fuel storage, electronics and all the ancillary components.

The new system is less than half the size of the Equinox system and uses only one-third as much platinum while producing more power. The new stacks are now being tested in GM's fuel cell labs in Honeoye Falls, NY with the goal of selling production vehicles by 2015. Manufacturing engineers like Lucy Wilke are focused on developing the processes necessary to produce fuel cells in volume at an affordable price. Check out the video after the jump.



Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.



PRESS RELEASE

GM's Fuel Cell System Shrinks in Size, Weight, Cost
Testing Under Way on Production-Intent System for 2015 Commercialization

2010-03-16

Burbank, Calif. – General Motors Co. is testing a production-intent hydrogen fuel cell system that can be packaged in the space of a traditional four-cylinder engine and be ready for commercial production in 2015.

The system is half the size, 220 pounds lighter and uses about a third of the platinum of the system in the Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell electric vehicles used in Project Driveway, the world's largest market test and demonstration fleet of fuel cell electric vehicles that began in late 2007 and has amassed nearly 1.3 million miles of everyday driving in cities around the world.

"Our learning from Project Driveway has been tremendous and these vehicles have been very important to our program," Charles Freese, executive director of GM's Global Fuel Cell Activities told reporters Tuesday at a news briefing on GM's fuel cell progress.

"The 30 months we committed to the demonstration are winding down, but we will keep upgrades of these vehicles running and will continue learning from them while we focus efforts on the production-intent program for 2015.

"Some of the 119 fuel cell electric vehicles in Project Driveway will receive hardware and software upgrades and will become part of a technology demonstration program with the U.S. Department of Energy. Others will be driven by businesses and a few will be used to continue showing that, with proper fueling infrastructure, hydrogen fuel cells are a viable alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles.

"We will continue to use the Project Driveway fleet strategically to advance fuel cell technology, hydrogen infrastructure, and GM's vehicle electrification goals," Freese said.

The first long-term loan of the new-look Chevy fuel cell vehicle will be to Stephanie White, a fuel cell advocate who was among the first Project Driveway participants and regularly blogs on her vision for a hydrogen economy in which zero-pollution fuel cells are a mainstream source of transportation. Freese presented White with the keys to the car on Tuesday."

Driving the Chevy fuel cell around LA has been an amazing experience," White said. "People are always stopping me to ask questions about the vehicle and I tell them how powerful and eco-friendly it is."

About General Motors: General Motors Company, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 204,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 34 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling.


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  • 50 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Another useless PR stunt from GM.

      Oh yeah, I almost forgot: "hydrogen is the fuel of the future and always will be". :) Thanks for reminding me. Anyway, I'm used to waiting forever for the oh'mighty crap-efficiency -unpractical-unsustainable-unaffordable hydrogen fool-cell cars.

      But the wait is ower man! 2015 is set in stone! (Just like 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, ... LOL! :)
      Nevermind, in 2015 all the laws of physics will change, and finally we will have those cars. ;)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Some green-tech enthusiasts believe that the HFC is bad because its research was funded by the Bush administration to the exclusion of other technology and would potentially benefit oil companies because of all the hydrogen at the end of the hydrocarbon chains in fossil fuels.

      HOWEVER, a catalyst discovered around 2008 at MIT allows low-power electrolysis of water ( 2*H₂O → 2*H₂ + O₂ ) that would allow water to serve as the buffer input to an energy storage system for photovoltaic power. The resulting 2*H₂ and O₂ could then be used an in HFC to power a car (or home).

      See: http://techtv.mit.edu/videos/273-tiny-bubbles
      and: http://www.suncatalytix.com/
        • 3 Months Ago
        "2. Hydrogen is very easy to store. "

        You really think compression to 10,000 pounds (5 TONS) per square inch is "easy"?
        You really think cooling to a temperature of -252.87 °C, -423.17 °F for liquifaction is "easy"?
        You really think that devising complex and expensive alloys that will absorb enough H2 to match or beat the other storage methods in cost and volume is "easy"?

        If you think that is easy, I'd hate to tackle whatever you think is "hard".
        • 3 Months Ago
        It has nothing to do with Bush. It is the fact that:
        1) There is no source of hydrogen. It must be made from natural gas or energy intensive electrolysis.
        2) It is not easy to store hydrogen. (Smallest molecule.)
        3) There is no hydrogen infrastructure.
        4) Fuel Cells are not nearly cheap enough.
        5) Fuel cells are not robust enough.
        • 3 Months Ago
        Yeah. "All those big multi-national corporations" will TELL US what we are going to buy.

        Uh-huh. You have some good ideas takeawalk.

        It's time for us consumers to use the power of our wallets and only buy electric vehicles, series hybrids or flex fuel ICE vehicles.

        I'll tell you this, if the day ever comes that all vehicles are fuel cell powered I'll never buy a new vehicle again. I'll buy a used one with a dead fc stack and convert it to full electric with the help of my local electric vehicle association chapter - http://www.eaaev.org/eaachapters.html
        It shouldn't be too hard to yank all the fuel cell crap out, very satisfying too.
        • 3 Months Ago
        1. Hydrogen can be made from a multitude of resources, not just SMR or electrolysis. However, both of those technologies have been proven for decades, and are completely capable of supplying all the hydrogen needed for FCVs. Renewable sources of hydrogen are currently be developed, just like they are being developed to provide electricity.

        2. Hydrogen is very easy to store. Currently it can be stored in gaseous, liquid, and solid forms. The storage efficiency of each of those types is undergoing ongoing improvements, and the improved storage devices are sold commercially with no issues.

        http://www.physorg.com/news188056335.html

        3. Read #2. The hydrogen infrastructure not only exists, but can be easily expanded. There have been dozens of hydrogen station opened in the past year alone, as well as portable systems set up on demand. The establishment of the H2 infrastructure in Vancouver is illustrative of how the infrastructure can be developed to support FCV usage. Japan, Germany, and the UK are firmly committed to government support of H2 infrastructure, so even if they never succeed in the US, they will in the rest of the world.

        4. Read the article above. None of us knows the current price for automotive fuel cells, especially considering they are currently hand-built limited scale products. However, mass production will bring down prices, and the automakers all suggest they will have products available in the next decade.

        5. Similar to #4, the current fuel cells are all experimental prototypes, yet they have shown great robustness in a variety of environments in which batteries are known to have flaws. How many BEVs were used during the Olympics to ferry around thousands of guests? Again, the automakers tell us that within the next decade, FCVs will be sold at prices not much greater than today's ICEs - something they are not saying about BEVs.

        I like all kinds of alternative power. BEVs are great for some people, hybrids work for more, future ICEs will be even better than they are today - and FCVs will be a part of the automotive landscape.
        • 3 Months Ago
        "Yeah. "All those big multi-national corporations" will TELL US what we are going to buy."

        Nothing of the sort. The consumers will have all the choices: BEVs, FCVs, ICEs, hybrids.

        Nobody is limiting what will be sold. Buy what you want. Of course, no matter which product you choose, it will most likely be supplied by a multi-national.
        • 3 Months Ago
        "1. Hydrogen can be made from a multitude of resources, not just SMR or electrolysis. However, both of those technologies have been proven for decades, and are completely capable of supplying all the hydrogen needed for FCVs. Renewable sources of hydrogen are currently be developed, just like they are being developed to provide electricity."

        Please provide efficiency numbers and compare with EV's and ICE's, and link back to the overarching limitations of the laws of thermodynamics.

        "2. Hydrogen is very easy to store. Currently it can be stored in gaseous, liquid, and solid forms. The storage efficiency of each of those types is undergoing ongoing improvements, and the improved storage devices are sold commercially with no issues."

        Please compare sizes of these storage mechanisms compared to a gas tank or battery.

        "3. Read #2. The hydrogen infrastructure not only exists, but can be easily expanded. There have been dozens of hydrogen station opened in the past year alone, as well as portable systems set up on demand. The establishment of the H2 infrastructure in Vancouver is illustrative of how the infrastructure can be developed to support FCV usage."

        Actually, the hydrogen for the Olympic buses had to be shipped over from QUEBEC in trucks!!! It was produced from cheap hydro over there!

        "4. Read the article above. None of us knows the current price for automotive fuel cells, especially considering they are currently hand-built limited scale products. However, mass production will bring down prices, and the automakers all suggest they will have products available in the next decade."

        Heard that before.

        "5. How many BEVs were used during the Olympics to ferry around thousands of guests? Again, the automakers tell us that within the next decade, FCVs will be sold at prices not much greater than today's ICEs - something they are not saying about BEVs."

        BEV's aren't suitable for buses (yet). I concede that fuel cells are better suited for this application.

        "I like all kinds of alternative power. BEVs are great for some people, hybrids work for more, future ICEs will be even better than they are today - and FCVs will be a part of the automotive landscape. "

        Agree, FCV's will be for those who don't appreciate convenience, efficiency, or price. They will also be good for buses etc.

        I just don't want my tax money funding them. I am personally paying for those Olympic buses, all British Columbians will, we will be about 4 billion in debt over that party.
        • 3 Months Ago
        There we have it! Spec says "No H2", so now we all have to go home. Sorry, all those big multi-national corporations will stop everything as soon as they read his comment. All those government plans will just cease. All of those countless researchers trying to make a better tomorrow. It's a done deal, because Spec said...

        (LOL)

        Keep it up, ABG. Many of us enjoy reading about the green vehicles of the future, no matter how impossible they might seem - even though we see them around us right now. BEVs, FCVs, hybrids, advanced ICEs, bring them all on!
        • 3 Months Ago
        --There we have it! Spec says "No H2", so now we all have to go home.

        That isn't what he said, this is:

        "1) There is no source of hydrogen. It must be made from natural gas or energy intensive electrolysis.
        2) It is not easy to store hydrogen. (Smallest molecule.)
        3) There is no hydrogen infrastructure.
        4) Fuel Cells are not nearly cheap enough.
        5) Fuel cells are not robust enough. "

        I can see why you can't respond to this. The automakers are nowhere near addressing and solving these problems. Simply put, your consumer ready FCV does not and probably won't ever exist. Thats just the facts of the situation. Any one of these would be a major breakthrough to overcome, but all 5? simultaneously?? in FIVE YEARS?? This press release, like FCVs in general, is a sham PR stunt. The only good thing going for FCVs is the PR, which might help prop up stocks for companies marketing it as the next big thing to clueless investors, but even that stunt will only work so long..





      • 5 Years Ago
      What a size difference. The smaller the stack the more cars it can be used in.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ask her what the well to wheel efficiency is of her lying system.
        that size reduction doesn't change that it's as inefficient as a combustion engine.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Size difference isn't what makes these R&D ponies, its the COST. Outside expensive billion-dollar labs, these things currently can't and may never be produced. All I got from this press release is GM saying "SEE, WE GOT A FUEL CELL TOO" in response to the bloom box hoopla. Nothing new. Nothing that suggests they're any closer to a viable consumer product.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Your tax money at work.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Here's a rundown of past and present FCV concepts and development projects from various automakers:

        http://www.fuelcells.org/info/charts/carchart.pdf
        • 5 Years Ago
        "This is not a Bush Administration plot. The ramping up of federal interest in fuel cell vehicles began with the Clinton Administration. It has produced exceptional results, rivaling the best of DOE’s research programs. And best of all from the taxpayers’ perspective, government funding is a small fraction – no more than 20% — of what the auto industry itself has invested. And the total invested in hydrogen over the past 20 years is less than we are spending on batteries this year alone. "

        http://www.fuelcellinsider.org/2009/12/we-should-double-down-on-hydrogen/
      • 5 Years Ago
      IMO, there is nothing that a FCV vehicle can do that a natural gas vehicle can't do better.

      Cost of Vehicle: Nat Gas Vehicle is WAY less
      Cost of Fuel: Nat Gas is CHEAPER than H2 (made from nat gas!)
      Infrastructure: Nat Gas is everywhere... H2 is, well, somewhere
      Storage: H2 Needs expensive storage tanks to prevent leaks
      Safety: H2 is much more likely to leak/escape/kaboom
      Availabilty: You can BUY a Civic GX NOW, as for a Clarity, good luck even getting a lease.

      FCV... whats the point?
        • 3 Months Ago
        Well, there is the possibility of using a fuel cell that runs directly on natural gas, like the Bloom box does. Granted, it is still much more expensive than an IC engine, and is not yet available for sale, but in every other way it would be superior to both H2-FCVs and CNG-ICE:

        Higher efficiency than H2FCV when the energy losses in reforming are taken into account. Much higher efficiency than IC engine.

        Cost of fuel would be cheaper, H2 must by economic necessity be more expensive than its source, and of course the difference in efficiency only magnifies the effect.

        Natural gas has 3x higher volumetric energy density, compared to H2 gas, that means 3x greater driving range from a storage tank of the same size and pressure.

        Safety - yes, natural gas is less leak prone than H2, can be odorized unlike H2, and doesn't embrittle steel the way H2 does.

        If a breakthrough occurs that brings the price of H2 fuel cells down to "affordable", it is likely it could also bring down the price of fuel cells running on some other fuel, like natural gas, methanol, or even gasoline. Since those other fuels will be less expensive and have much less expensive storage, they'd quickly crowd the H2 fueled version out of the market.
        • 3 Months Ago
        The reason all the automakers are going with H2 versus other kinds of fuel cells in simple - standardization.

        They did make FCV prototypes that ran on various other fuels, but those systems required extra equipment in the form of the reforming modules - more expense, and more complexity. It was decided that it would be better if all FCVs used H2 instead, and left the reforming to be done outside of the vehicle, where it could be done more efficiently. Onsite SMR of natural gas is an ideal solution, and is cleaner than charging BEVs with typical grid mix.

        http://bioage.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341c4fbe53ef0128768cb592970c-popup

        http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/12/mccarthy-marginal-20091229.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+greencarcongress%2FTrBK+(Green+Car+Congress)&utm_content=Google+Reader

        So, your proposal for FCVs that run on other H2 carriers is valid, but it happens to be a step backward. The automakers have been there and done that, and moved on.
        • 3 Months Ago
        Yes, GM and others had tried on-board reforming to make H2, and it turned out to be too expensive and unreliable, and they dropped the idea, but I think you missed something.

        The Bloom box and other solid oxide fuel cells can run directly on natural gas, no reformer needed. With some slight modifications, they can also run on other liquid hydrocarbons like gasoline or biodiesel. The efficiency is much higher precisely because it doesn't suffer the 30% energy losses inherent to reforming, and it can gain energy from oxidizing both the hydrogen atoms and the carbon atoms. That improvement in efficiency is a big step forward, the reduced fueling cost is another.

        By the way, molten carbonate fuel cells have been run on pure carbon such as charcoal and coal, no hydrogen atoms involved at all!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Until they can cut down the price and increase the reliability of fuel cells, I don't know why they bother putting them into cars. EVs struggle to compete against gas cars . . . but H2 FC cars not even in the ball park yet.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So they just gave the keys to a new driver who tells everyone how eco-friendly the car is.
      "Yes this car is realy eco friendly, instead of driving on gas we use a fossil fuel called, natural gas. This car is realy cool, now you can drive on a different fossil fuel and you won't have to replace the engine (stack) for 80,000 miles, if your lucky. GM will be making many of them, they will be happy to cell you a nother in 70, or 80,000 miles. This way the oil corps can keep making money from importing NG and off of the whole distribution network they already have set up and charge for the NG they make the H2 from".

      This car will be realy good for GM and the oil companies, after the consumers pays for the H2 infrastructure. For the environment and the consumer, not so much. Oh, that's right there will be some miracle breakthroughs to produce H2 at home out of sunshine as cheap as electricity and then the guy that received the keys to his new H2 ride won't be talking out of his rear. Sorry if you H2 fans consider this as hate comments, I consider them as truth comments. Since I am paying for this research on hydrogen, I am entitled to my opinion.
        • 3 Months Ago
        Well Lets... You have most likely done more for the environment than I have. Save for the jet airplane travel. I burned much gas in my business, I have been sucking carpets for 20 years. It all runs off a V8 engine. I have slowed down in my old age. I would like to do something else but it is easy money for me at this point.

        I guess with a name like Stephanie, Mrs White is not a guy. Person would have been more precise.

        You take the bus and ride your bike, you don't drive no SUV.
        • 3 Months Ago
        Ms White is nice and smart, but a bit clueless as to the economics and efficiency of H2 fuels. But I don't really blame her, GM went to great lengths to hide the true costs of both vehicles and fuel during their "project driveway" promotion.
        • 3 Months Ago
        Thank you EVsuperhero, for the kind words.

        I laugh about all the slanders thrown at me, because I know who I am while most of those who b!@tch the most are likely much worse polluters than I am. I only wish I could sell you all some carbon credits to make up for your wasteful polluting lifestyles...

        (LOL)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ms. White is quite an interesting lady. Please show her a little more respect.

        "I’m a biologist for the State of California. My background is in marine ecology (I did my research in the Antarctic), and I’ve been involved with, and an advocate for, improving environmental awareness for as long as I can remember. I’m a native of Los Angeles, who’s traveled all over the world."

        http://www.h2carblog.com/?p=638

        "I’ll be honest and establish the fact that I am an eco-friendly tree-hugging vegetarian who has been taking public transit to work every day for the past 3 years. Ask anyone who knows me how I feel about gas guzzlers, and they know the answer. So, people have been enormously surprised to see that I am driving an SUV instead of a small, aerodynamic, econo-car."
      • 5 Years Ago
      "a few will be used to continue showing that, ***** with proper fueling infrastructure *****, hydrogen fuel cells are a viable alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles."

      'nuff said.

      Price?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Greed. He has investments in hydrogen fuel cell companies.

      At least he puts his money where his mouth is, unfortunately his astroturf advocacy tends toward pump & dump enthusiasm with all the balance of faux news.

      I often wonder if he is related to greg blencoe.
        • 3 Months Ago
        You don't remember just how crazy Greg Blencoe is.

        After leaving here because he was of tiered of getting called out on his straw men and double standards, he turned off the comments on his own blog.

        There is a world of difference between being plain wrong and being Greg Belencoe
        • 3 Months Ago
        I've got it. He wants FCVs because they ARE so inefficient so we'll all get sick of cars and start WALKING everywhere or taking public transportation.

        Personally, if I were the King around here we would have an extensive PRT system and replace roads and cars with that.

        It would have low speed tracks that replace current city streets and roads, stop right at your front door to pick you up or drop you off. There would be a grid of higher speed tracks, one every 2 miles going east-west and north-south which would connect to the low speed system and provide speeds up to 50 mpg. You could get some more sleep or do more work while you travel to or from your destination with no waiting for other vehicles and no traffic jams, no traffic accidents.

        High speed rail (and ultra speed 500 MPH hyper trains between major cities) would replace domestic air travel and even some international flights.

        If I were King...
        • 3 Months Ago
        TheTom: You might want to check out a rather interesting version of PRT here:
        http://www.skytran.net/phpsite/home/Home%20Intro.php

        Light, ultra efficient, low maintenance, low installation costs, and best of all is that local travel could use speeds up to 80 mph, and inter-city travel at speeds up to 150 mph - while still using less energy than a Prius.
        • 3 Months Ago
        Thank you typo police! Make that 50 MPH.
        • 3 Months Ago
        letstakeawalk = greg blencoe in soul. Same stupidity, same arrogance.
        • 3 Months Ago
        I'm not Greg Blencoe, you idiot. I'm just a guy who happens to like FCVs.

        I'll let you guys get back to your conspiracy theories...
        • 3 Months Ago
        Bingo! He IS greg blencoe.
        • 3 Months Ago
        TheTom said, "There would be a grid of higher speed tracks, one every 2 miles going east-west and north-south which would connect to the low speed system and provide speeds up to 50 mpg". Wonder how fast 50 mpg is? LOL!
      • 5 Years Ago
      This might just be pure PR. Fuel cells have received a bit of hype since that BloomEnergy story on 60 minutes. But the BloomEnergy box could make some sense since it was stationary and powered by piped in natural gas.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The year 2015, somewhere in Suburbia:

      Neighbor 1 - "Hi Jim, nice fuel cell car you got there!"
      Neighbor 2 - "Hey Bob! Yeah, it's great, isn't it? But I gotta run, I need to pick up a copy of Duke Nukem Forever before it's sold out. Catch ya later."
      Neighbor 1 - "Alright, later. Oh hey, don't forget we were going to watch the first episode of the new Firefly season tonight!"
      • 5 Years Ago
      fuel cell is awesome. water out of the exhaust while making proper engine combustion sound. me likey! only thing left is to make home hydrogen generators that are efficient enough with equally efficient solar panels.
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