GM and Renewable Innovations are collaborating on an Empower rapid charger that can help retail fuel stations add DC fast-charging capabilities without significant investment in non-recoverable infrastructure upgrades. (GM)

GM announces Hydrotec fuel-cell power generator and rapid charger for EVs

General Motors expands its hydrogen fuel cell technology as a stationary power source for rapid DC recharging of EVs as well as other mobile power applications.

General Motors has announced the expansion of commercial applications for its Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cells with an integrated DC rapid charger. The company is currently developing units intended for applications such as heavy-duty trucks, aerospace and locomotives, but it is now broadening the intended use to include stationary power generation.

GM’s Hydrotec-based power generators will be powered by the company’s generation-two fuel cell power cubes. GM is supplying Hydrotec power cubes to Renewable Innovations of Lindon, Utah, who will manage the assembly of the mobile power generators.

In addition to mobile EV charging, GM and Renewable Innovations have collaborated to develop the Empower rapid charger. This charger is intended for existing fuel stations seeking the ability to add DC fast charging capability. GM states the Empower rapid charger will help satisfy the growing need for fast charging infrastructure with no additional investment in electrical infrastructure upgrades.

The rapid charger is powered by eight GM Hydrotec power cubes and can supply a DC charge for up to four vehicles simultaneously at a rate of 150 kW. The estimated target for a full charge time of an EV via these units is 20 minutes. GM claims up to 100 or more EVs can be replenished by the rapid charger before the unit would need to be resupplied with hydrogen. Renewable Innovations plans to deploy 500 Empower rapid chargers across the U.S. by the end of 2025.

“Our vision of an all-electric future is broader than just passenger vehicles or even transportation,” said Charlie Freese, GM executive director of the global 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.”

According to GM, these hydrogen fuel cell generators could replace gas- and diesel-burning units commonly used at construction sites, data centers and outdoor events. GM also claims they could serve as an emergency power source for residential houses and lower demand commercial needs. The mobile power generator can also be palletized for use in military applications. The power output of these units ranges from 60-600 kW, and they do not generate excessive levels of heat or noise. Pricing details for these units have not yet been announced.

There are currently several validation and development projects planned for the Hydrotec mobile power generator, including a charging station for EVs being funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center. The target launch date for this charging station is mid-2022. The California Energy Commission is also funding a demonstration utilizing four mobile power generators to study the use of hydrogen-based mobile power to offset the loss of energy during the planned power shutoffs.

“We’ve seen that there’s a need for EV charging in places where there’s no charging equipment,” said Robert Mount, CEO and co-founder of Renewable Innovations. “Now we’re committed to bringing the best technology and game-changing applications to market with GM to accelerate the company’s vision of a zero-emissions future.”

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