GM and Dow to Work on Fuel Cell Program

May 06, 2003 by Jeff Shepard

General Motors Corp. (Detroit, MI) will soon generate electricity with fuel cells for Dow Chemical Co. (Midland, MI), a bid to gain experience with the technology that could eventually power most automobiles. The deal, which will benefit both companies, is the largest commercial application of fuel cells to date.

Under the plan, GM will provide Dow manufacturing plants with trucks containing fuel cell conversion equipment. Dow will provide the hydrogen fuel, a byproduct of one of Dow's principal products, chlorine. Dow will pump hydrogen into the trucks, where it will be converted into electricity through hydrogen fuel cell technology. The electricity then will be pumped back into the facility's power plant for general use. Dow expects to get at least 35MW of power, enough to power 25,000 homes for one year, over the lifetime of the agreement. It will run from 2005 to 2010, but could last longer if both companies wish.

GM and Dow plan to complete the agreement in the next two months and begin testing the equipment by the end of this year. GM and Dow still need to work out whether Dow will lease the fuel cell equipment or buy the electricity. Dow's largest manufacturing plant, a 30-acre complex in Freeport, TX, will be the first to use the fuel cell technology. Eventually, it may be used at other Dow plants, including one in Germany.