- gm is working with a company called renewable innovations to build tools that will bring its hydrotec hydrogen fuel-cell technology to generators.
- the automaker's mobile power generator (mpg) and empower rapid charger offer ways to charge as many as 100 or more evs without refilling or tapping into the electrical grid.
- with the u.s. hydrogen infrastructure still in its infancy, these systems are not very cost-effective, at least for now, but they're intriguing.
general motors announced wednesday that it is planning to bring its hydrotec hydrogen fuel-cell technology to generators. the company plans to test the waters with a hydrogen-powered mobile power generator, or mpg, and a rapid charger called empower.
while gm foresees multiple use cases for its hydrotec-based generators, it is primarily highlighting this technology’s potential to help today’s gas stations transition to electric-vehicle charging stations. that said, gm also sees the versatile mpg playing a military role, with its palletized prototype designed to provide power to temporary camps.
credit the hydrogen generator’s quieter operation and lower heat signature relative to its gas- or diesel-powered counterparts. in theory, these features ought to reduce the chance of enemy combatants coming across makeshift military sites.
yet, it's the mpg's potential role as a mobile fast charger for evs that interests us most. as described by charles freese, gm's executive director of its global fuel-cell business, the mpg provides the ability to add an ev fast charger without the need to connect to the grid or break ground to install fixed charging stations. the empower rapid charger, meanwhile, takes the basic concept of the mpg and kicks it up a few notches—notably, because of its ability to fast-charge four evs at the same time. with its internal hydrogen tanks at full capacity, the rapid charger can charge north of 100 cars before needing a refill, according to gm.
gm intends to offer its hydrogen-powered generators in a variety of outputs, from as few as 60 kilowatts to as much as 600 kw, in order to satisfy varying commercial needs. even so, the potential success of these emissions-free tools is stifled by the hydrogen infrastructure limitations of the united states. as such, refueling either of them is likely to be costly in many areas of the country.
in fact, freese acknowledged as much during a media call, saying that today's practice of trucking hydrogen is often cost-ineffective due to the vast distances traveled. however, freese believes hydrogen production will eventually happen closer to points of use, which ought to afford shorter trucking routes and bring down the price.
nevertheless, gm and its manufacturing partner renewable innovations are continuing to develop these hydrogen-powered generators, with the two companies planning to start public demonstrations of the mpg later in the year. renewable innovations is also working to place 500 empower rapid chargers across the u.s. before 2026.
despite this progress, gm is keeping coy about the potential price of the mpg or empower generators. likewise, the company's not quite ready to discuss the possibility of producing a smaller hydrogen generator for personal use. regardless, it seems it's only a matter of time until gas- and diesel-powered generators are replaced by zero-emission alternatives.