General Motors envisions using hydrogen to charge electric vehicles.
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Network connectivity is one of the biggest enemies of DC fast charging for electric vehicles. General Motors is proposing to use its hydrogen fuel cell technology to alleviate this particular limitation.
After years of negative attention to electric vehicles, U.S. auto group General Motors isn’t planning to leave all the pie to others. That’s why they have increased the opportunity to provide multiple solutions in order to utilize them as diversely 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 the Brownstown, Michigan-based joint venture Fuel Cell Systems Manufacturing Company of General Motors and Honda, the latter has been selected to integrate with the most diverse solutions. Including solutions suitable for commercial aircraft applications including Liebherr-Aerospace and Navistar trucks and locomotives manufactured by Wabtec Corporation.
Today, there is already a strong connection between electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles. Now that the idea of using hydrogen has lost a lot of ground, hydrogen-powered cars are essentially vehicles powered by electric powertrains. It’s just that the power mainly comes from fuel cells, not large-capacity lithium battery packs. GM just came up with a new solution to bring Electric Vehicles and hydrogen cars closer together. This time, by using hydrogen to charge conventional Electric Vehicle batteries at high power. The main benefit of this solution: temporarily equipping the site, avoiding the large and expensive work of connecting to the grid. Not to mention the cumbersome procedures and sometimes significant delays involved in the installation of permanent sites.
The first solution developed by GM in partnership with Renewable Innovations is the EMPower DC fast-charging unit. It is designed for installation in existing service stations for maximum flexibility at all levels. But it will also find its place on very busy roads and near tourist and/or popular resorts.
According to visuals provided by GM, this rendering will be based on a containerized chassis. By default it will hold 8 Hydrotec power packs along with their hydrogen tanks. On the outside, it has two chargers per side. The four charging points can simultaneously charge the batteries of multiple cars with up to 150 kW per car. According to the manufacturer, more than 100 electric vehicles can be charged before the Hydrotec power packs hydrogen tanks have to be refueled. The partners estimate that they will be able to deploy 500 of these structures in the United States by the end of 2025.
A second solution from GM and its renewable innovations takes the form of a mobile unit, somewhat like a trailer that powers a generator set.
What is the use of this? With this structure, it’s about providing a temporary quick stop. For example, equip sites for seasonal or temporary Electric Vehicle charging needs. Winter sports resorts fall into the first category. As a second example, an electric vehicle exhibition was held in a place with few charging stations.
Leaving the U.S. framework where GM originally kept its new equipment, one could well imagine mobile stations being used to power electric vehicles that could follow cyclists such as the Tour de France.
For their mobility solutions, partners do not provide accurate data on Electric Vehicle charging. Only the technical characteristics are conveyed, namely the output power in a fairly wide range, between 60 and 600 kW. Additionally, the chassis on wheels chassis will be built at Renewable Innovations’ production units in Salt Lake City. The same goes for EMPower plants.
In its press release, GM is looking into other applications for its mobility units that could actually replace diesel generators. The American manufacturer estimates 70 percent more power for a similar volume while being quieter. Thus, the device can be used to power construction sites, movie theaters, data centers, outdoor concerts, and more. A palletized transportable derivative model is planned for the U.S. Army to power the camp and serve as an emergency power plant.
In fact Extreme E already uses a similar system to charge its Electric SUVs before the races it stages in remote locations all over the world, from the Artic Circle to the desert of Saudi Arabia.
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