General Motors is contemplating a daring idea to construct portable hydrogen generators for charging electric vehicles in remote locations.
It’s another technological possibility being investigated as automakers consider how low- and zero-emissions vehicles could be used in distant places.
The majority of electric automobiles on the market now have a range between 200 and 400 kilometers, which is less than most gasoline or diesel vehicles.
While hydrogen-powered vehicles are also in development – test fleets of Toyota Mirai (seen below) and Hyundai Nexo hydrogen cars are now on Australian roads — they are dependent on a limited number of refilling stations.
Moreover, hydrogen cars are currently more expensive to design and produce than electric automobiles.
A new idea from General Motors would utilize hydrogen to fuel portable power stations or generators, which would then provide electricity to charge electric vehicles.
Recently, Drive was able to get an up-close look at General Motors’ emission-free hydrogen generator at its proving ground in Milford, Michigan – and watch as it quickly charged a Hummer EV.
The portable device utilizes Hydrotec hydrogen technology developed by General Motors.
The notion could give a solution for electric car use in remote regions of countries like Australia, despite the proposal’s current exotic tone.
Today, the concept of an electric vehicle traveling as far as Cape York or through the Simpson Desert may seem implausible.
Nonetheless, the concept of a portable hydrogen generator offers the possibility of offering a portable power source wherever it is required.
General Motors says it is collaborating with Renewable Innovations to develop the equipment necessary to implement Hydrotec technology in portable power generators.
Unlike generators fueled by gasoline and diesel, General Motors claims that its hydrogen-powered generator is nearly silent and emits no emissions other than water vapor.
General Motors claims that their transportable power generator and associated quick charging system can charge up to one hundred electric vehicles without refueling or tapping into the local electrical grid.
General Motors reports that the portable system is not yet cost-effective to manufacture or distribute, but that development is underway.
If the project is successful, rural companies and energy providers will be able to avoid expensive modifications to local power networks in order to accommodate an increase in electric vehicle use.
When combined with an Empower quick charger, the hydrogen fuel cell generator may be hauled to remote locations on a huge box trailer.
Charles Freese, executive director of General Motors’ global fuel cell division, stated that the mobile generator “enables the addition of (electric car) fast chargers without the need to connect to the grid or break ground to establish permanent charging stations.”