Dow Chemical Uses GM Fuel Cells to Power Plant

February 15, 2004 by Jeff Shepard

General Motors Corp. (GM, Detroit, MI) and Dow Chemical Co. began generating electricity when Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham flipped a switch combining GM's fuel cells with excess hydrogen from the Dow Chemical Co. plant in Freeport, TX. The resulting electricity, produced as hydrogen flows over the metal plates in fuel cells, eventually could power 2 percent of the chemical plant, or enough electricity to power 25,000 homes for a year.

Dow, which produces chemicals, plastics and fertilizer, approached GM about a deal in October 2002. Last year, the companies announced an agreement to produce $50 million worth of electricity for the Dow plant. Dow's chemical production makes excess hydrogen the auto maker needs to continue its study of fuel cells. Through the deal, Dow gets to reduce its use of natural gas for power and expands its sources of electricity.

The deal lasts through 2010, and GM hopes to reduce the cost of fuel cell technology so it can put the battery-like power producers into vehicles by 2010. Neither company would say how much Dow is paying the automaker for the electricity.