GM Tests Fuel Cell Truck

General Motors Corp. has demonstrated the world’s first drivable fuel cell vehicle that extracts hydrogen from gasoline to produce electricity.

HONEOYE FALLS, New York – May 7, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] “This vehicle and the reforming technology in it move us closer to a hydrogen economy,” said Larry Burns, GM’s Vice President of Research and Development, and Planning. “This is a drivable lab that is helping us to learn to reform fuels for fuel cells to power cars, homes and businesses. A lot of people said we couldn’t use gasoline to power a fuel cell system. Well, we did it.” The Chevrolet S-10 fuel cell pickup is equipped with a fuel processor that reforms low-sulfur gasoline onboard by a series of chemical reactions. The fuel is mixed with air and water, and then passed over a series of catalysts that break apart – or “crack” – the hydrogen from the carbon. The resulting stream of hydrogen is sent to the fuel cell stack, where it is combined with oxygen from the air to produce electricity. When linked with a fuel cell stack, the reformer technology in the vehicle could achieve up to 40 percent overall energy efficiency, which is a 50 percent improvement over a conventional internal combustion engine. With a reformer fuel cell, the S-10 pickup could approach 40 mpg. Carbon dioxide emissions would be cut by up to 50 percent if the gasoline was reformed onboard and greatly reduced if the reformer were placed at the gas station. All regulated emissions would be nearly eliminated, except for trace amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. There are no oxides of nitrogen. The fuel cell technology in the S-10 also plays a key role in the transition to a hydrogen-based economy. GM envisions being able to have your car power your home and your home becoming a source of hydrogen for your car. According to Burns, there will be a number of sources for creating hydrogen and the competition will help spur the use of fuel cells. “You can reform gasoline onboard or at the gas station to produce hydrogen or you can create it at your home or business,” Burns said. “You can reform natural gas at your home or you can electrolyze water. Your home or office could become an alternative to a gas station in the future. “In most cases, you already have natural gas, water and electricity coming into your home or place of business. To create hydrogen, all that is missing is a natural gas reformer or an electrolyzer. Bottom line, the transition will happen faster because there will be so many competing ways to refuel without replacing the existing infrastructure.” Access: http://gm.com/company/gmability/
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