(Invited Plenary) From Moon Shot to the Battlefield and Under the Sea

Monday, 2 October 2017: 10:00
National Harbor 2/3 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
K. Wellenkotter (General Motors Corporation)
Accelerating Fuel Cell Transition to Commercial Reality

For more than 100 years, the automotive industry fostered prolific technical innovation and business change. Today, the industry is transforming itself in a concentrated effort to create electrified vehicle architectures from both battery and fuel cell technologies. General Motors began its fuel cell journey more than 50 years ago when the Electrovan became world’s first hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle, a feat made possible by the first technology transfer from the Apollo Space Program. Although Electrovan was an important milestone, it highlighted technical challenges that had to be solved before fuel cells could become commercially viable. One by one, these barriers were broken over succeeding decades, and as the 20thCentury closed, GM prepared for the first large-scale fuel cell deployment. Project Driveway placed 119 fuel cell vehicles in customer garages and driveways, with more than 5,000 motorists amassing 3.2 million miles of real-world driving. These Generation 0 systems continue to gather useful data though U.S. military collaborations with the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy. Meanwhile, GM is partnering with Honda in a joint venture to mass produce next-generation fuel cell systems. GM’s HydroTec fuel cell technology is undergoing evaluations, on land, under water, and in the air. Incredible progress has been made in reducing the mass and cost, but additional challenges remain, specifically in creating a scalable public fueling infrastructure in the United States, Japan, Germany and Korea.