Dow and GM Launch Phase II of Industrial Fuel Cell Program

November 28, 2004 by Jeff Shepard

Dow Chemical Co. (Midland, MI) and General Motors Corp. (GM, Detroit, MI) launched the second phase of their joint project to prove the viability of hydrogen fuel cells for motor vehicles and distributed power generation. The project has expanded from a single GM test cell, installed in February 2004, to a multi-cell pilot plant at Dow's Texas operations in Freeport, TX.

During the second phase, the fuel cell pilot plant will be integrated into Dow's chemical and plastics production facility via the power distribution grid and Dow's hydrogen clean-up and pipeline system. While generating real- world data to enable further development of the technology, the fuel cells will also supply up to 1 MW of energy for use in Dow's Texas operations.

Phase II objectives include building on key learnings from Phase I and demonstrating fuel cell reliability for distributed generation, improving and optimizing the reliability of power from the fuel cells, investigating fuel cell waste heat-recovery opportunities, and understanding hydrogen purity requirements.

If Phase II proves successful, the project will transition to Phase III, large-scale commercialization by 2007. Ultimately, Dow and GM could 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.