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GM Moves 500 Fuel Cell Experts from Labs to Production

General Motors is moving more than 500 fuel cell scientists and engineers from advanced development laboratories to core engineering functions to prepare this technology for future production.

More than 400 fuel cell engineers will report to GM’s Powertrain Group to begin production engineering of fuel cell systems. Another 100 will transfer to GM’s Global Product Development organization to start integrating fuel cells into future company vehicles. More than 150 fuel cell scientists and program support will remain as part of GM’s Research and Development center to continue advanced research in hydrogen storage, fuel cells and program commercialization.

Moving our fuel cell experts from advanced development laboratories to our core engineering organizations highlights our strong commitment to developing electrically-driven vehicles using diverse energy sources.

—Tom Stephens, GM Group Vice President of Global Powertrain

Leading the fuel cell engineering team is Dr. J. Byron McCormick, currently executive director, GM Fuel Cell Activities. He will report simultaneously to Dan Hancock, GM Powertrain Vice President, Global Engineering, and John Buttermore, GM Powertrain Vice President, Global Manufacturing.

McCormick has been working on electric and fuel cell propulsion system research and development for more than 30 years. He was instrumental in the development of the EV-1 electric vehicle, and during the past 10 years, has led the GM fuel cell activities team.

Comments

Neil

Very interesting! Does that mean they think they have a fuel cell that will do the job? (if they haven't lowered the platinum content by at least a factor of 5 then it isn't ready for prime time). I wonder if GMs big oil owners are willing to keep it afloat long enough to make fuel cells fly (by that I presume a PHEV with a fuel cell range extender). I wouldn't be surprised if big oil was willing to foot the bill to get hydrogen out the door.

note: I much prefer BEVs, but I think that with enough money (wasted) and time fuel cells can be made to work.

Lou Grinzo

The reason many people, including me, are so skeptical about HFC vehicles has almost nothing to do with the fuel cell itself. It's the enormous, compound challenges of figuring out an economical and environmentally acceptable way to generate all that hydrogen, distribute it to retailers, dispense it to drivers, and store it on-board the car.

If a little green man landed in his space ship and handed us a perfect design for a fuel cell we would still be a very long way from figuring out how to make HFC vehicles a mainstream alternative.

Herm Perez

so they cut their research staff by by 85%.. my god they had 650 engineers doing what?, anything ready for production?

wintermane

Likely they just completed the 6th gen fc design and now are into the production readyin phase and the production cost cutting phase.

Remember the 5th gen chopped the fcin half thus chopping all materials and weight and bulk in half while keeping power the same.

They may have the fc they want to mass produce.

DS

The next step for GM will be to move those Fuel Cell Experts on to the Showroom floor.

NIRMALSINH WALA

30 years of R& D and nothing on the road yet. There is something seriously wrong in such R&D. They should put the latest battery in EV-1 and start production.America needs to start using electric vehilces without any further loss of time. There is saying in Gujarat -india that only a horse which starts walking on road makes progress not the one in the stable.

John Baldwin

er....were does the hydrogen come from then? Better move these 500 into the Hydrogen production department...the fuel cell was invented by the Victorians, thats never been the issue....how do you make hydrogen, that remains the problem.

Having a fuel that can be put in a fuel cell is quite an important point, though often overlooked by car makers technology departments who like to play with toys.

Schmeltz

It takes electricity to make Hydrogen from water through electrolysis, right? What is the most efficient way to make electricity? I'm guessing Nuclear and Wind farms, agreed? Why not build more Nuclear plants and wind farms to make Electricity for Hydrogen? What's so complicated about that?

wintermane

actualy it depends.. if a gas station has nat gas lines nearby they will trunk the line to em and use a nat gas h2 generator as that is very cheap.

As for eletrolisys its currently about 540 per kilo andfalling. Coal based h2 gen is 70 cents a kilo.. but co2.....

Its not a big issue anymore as h2 costs are falling and fuel costs are rising;/

AND now that the updated type 4 h2 tanks areready they can store all they need for most carsin 2 tanks... That combined weigh less then one 6 kwh battery pack.

fstvette78

I dont see why they dont just use the H2 in an ICE and burn it.
Long ago it was deemed fuel cells would not be popular, They take somewhere around 20 seconds to warm up and get going. WAY TOO LONG FOR AMERICANS! its gotta be instant to work.
ICE is instant and you can burn it with other fuels and its flex fuel.

I wonder if this is not a way to just kill fuel cells quietly...or maybe they do have something worth while happening!

Andy

I thought that the manufacturers were in favour of methanol to be synthetically generated (by coal, gas or electrolysis) as a hydrogen distribution system.

It can be easily reformed back into CO2 and hydrogen onboard for teh fuel cell.

If the source for the carbon in the methanol is biological then, hey presto, a carbon neutral fuel.

Andy

sw

When executives make mistakes, they always try to hide the bodies by doing a re-org.

clett

GM have invested so much money and time into this project, how would you like to be the manager that turns around and says: "Oops, this fuel cell thing is rubbish, those billions were wasted"

Not going to happen. Hence the continued "momentum" of the fuel cell programme.

wintermane

Many see odd future cars when they think fuel cell.

I see a tiny silent microcar in india running simply on a tiny 500 buck fuelcell.. a tiny cheap battery and one cheap little in hub motor. And in 2025.. h2 cheaper then gas. This little car whirring along.

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