Dow Chemical Tests 1 MW Fuel Cell

Proving the viability of hydrogen fuel cells applies to both travel and home. The Dow Chemical Company and General Motors have launched the second phase of their joint project to show that fuel cells for motor vehicles and, possibly, distributed power generation are not just dreams of a future economy. The project has expanded from a single GM test cell, which was installed in February 2004 at Dow’s Texas operations, to a multi-cell pilot plant.

“In the first phase of this project, we collectively learned a lot about generating power from byproduct hydrogen via fuel cell technology, and now we’re ready to build on what we’ve learned,” said Gordon Slack, Dow’s Global Business Director for Energy and Climate Change. The 1 MW fuel cell pilot plant will be integrated into Dow’s chemical and plastics production facility via the power distribution grid and the company’s hydrogen cleanup and pipeline system. While the system is operating the company will monitor the systems’ data to enable further development of the technology. “The biggest benefit for GM is learning to work with real world hydrogen that has some impurities in it, and not the pure hydrogen you get in a lab setting,” said Timothy Vail, GM’s director of business development for fuel cell activities. “Not only can we test the effects of hydrogen purity, we can also test different generations of fuel cells, all in a controlled setting.” If operations’ testing at the Dow facility is successful, the companies plan to manufacture fuel cell plants for large-scale commercialization by 2007. Ultimately, Dow and GM would like to install up to 400 fuel cells at Dow facilities to generate 35 MW of electricity, equivalent to the amount of power needed for 25,000 average sized American homes.