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General Motors envisions hydrogen generators to charge electric cars

Network connectivity is one of the biggest enemies of EV DC fast charging. General Motors is proposing to use its hydrogen fuel cell technology to eliminate this particular limitation.

After years of focusing negatively on electromobility, the US car company General Motors does not want to leave the cake to others. That is why they multiply the possibilities of positioning their solutions in such a way that they can be used in as many different ways as possible. What are these solutions? In the vast majority of systems, they revolve around two internal systems: low-cobalt Ultium batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

Distributed by Fuel Cell Systems Manufacturing, a joint venture between General Motors and Honda based in Brownstown, Michigan, the latter has already been selected for the integration of various machines. Thus, without claiming to be exhaustive, for commercial aircraft applications with Liebherr Aerospace and Navistar trucks and locomotives built by Wabtec Corporation.

hydrogen and electric cars

There is already a strong connection between electric cars and hydrogen cars. After the idea of ​​using H2 gas in heat engines lost a lot of ground, hydrogen-powered vehicles are essentially models powered by an electric powertrain. Except that the performance mostly comes from playing a fuel cell, not a large capacity lithium pack. General Motors has just proposed new solutions that will bring electric cars and hydrogen cars closer together. This time by using hydrogen to charge conventional high-power electric vehicle batteries. The main advantages of this solution: Temporary equipment of the sites, avoiding large and expensive works to connect to the electricity network. Not to mention the lengthy procedures and sometimes huge delays.

EMPower quick charger

GM’s first solution, developed in partnership with Renewable Innovations, is the EMPower DC fast charger. It was specially developed for installation in existing filling stations and offers maximum flexibility at all levels. But it also finds its place along busy roads and in the vicinity of tourist and / or popular holiday destinations.

According to the visualizations provided by GM, this rendering is based on a container chassis. It will accommodate 8 Hydrotec units with their hydrogen tanks as standard. Outside 2 chargers per side. These four charging points can simultaneously charge the batteries of several vehicles with an output of up to 150 kW each. According to the manufacturer, more than 100 electric vehicles can be serviced before they have to be refueled with hydrogen. Partners estimate they can deploy 500 of these structures across the United States by the end of 2025.

Mobile loading units

The second solution presented by General Motors and its renewable innovations takes the form of a mobile unit resembling a trailer that powers the generator set.

What is it used for? This structure is about offering temporary quick stops. Multiple Applications. For example, equipping a site to meet seasonal or occasional electric vehicle charging needs. Ski resorts fall into the first category. To illustrate the second, an electric vehicle exhibition is held in a place with few charging stations.

Stepping away from the US frame in which GM initially keeps its new devices, it’s easy to imagine the mobile station being used to power electric cars following an event like a cyclist in the Tour de France.

From 60 to 600 kW

The partners do not provide precise data on charging electric vehicles for their mobile solution. Only technical characteristics are reported, namely the power output, which ranges in a fairly wide range between 60 and 600 kW. Additionally, this wheeled chassis is manufactured at Renewable Innovations’ manufacturing facilities in Salt Lake City. This will also be the case for EMPower stations.

In its press release, GM is considering other applications for its mobile unit that could actually replace a diesel generator. The American manufacturer expects 70% more power with a similar volume and quieter performance. The devices can be used to supply power to construction sites, cinema sets, data centers, open-air concerts, etc. A palletized transportable successor model, intended for the US Army, was planned to supply camps and as an emergency generator.


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