FREEPORT, Texas - Dow Chemical Company began drawing on a 75-kW fuel cell this month to help power its Texas Operations site here. The fuel cell, manufactured by General Motors Corporation (GM), marks the initial step in a Dow-GM fuel cell collaboration that was first announced in May 2003.

According to Dow and GM, the 75-kW hydrogen fuel cell generates enough electricity to power 60 average homes for one year. Dow produces the hydrogen needed for the fuel cell as a byproduct of its chemical manufacturing process. To date, Dow has either burned the hydrogen in its boilers or sold it to industrial gas companies.

The new installation is a test that will last four to six months, with more fuel cells to be added this summer. Dow and GM plan to eventually install 35 MW of fuel cells. That would meet 2 percent of the power needs for Dow's Texas Operations site, which is the company's largest chemical plant.

Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham was among the officials who pulled a lever to start the new fuel cell. Abraham applauded the fuel cell test, which is intended to demonstrate the viability of hydrogen fuel cells for a large industrial power system. "The Dow-GM transaction typifies the type of creative arrangements that will arise from the new hydrogen economy," stated Abraham.

Publication date: 02/23/2004