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GM Demonstrates Gasoline-Fed Fuel Cell Truck

a href=… Motors Corporation recently announced the demonstration of a new fuel cell vehicle -- a modified Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck, equipped with a specialized fuel processor that reforms onboard, low-sulfur gasoline to separate hydrogen.

The hydrogen, which is extracted by mixing the gasoline with air and water, and then passing it over a number of catalysts, is used to power the vehicle's fuel cell stack. The fuel cell combines the hydrogen with oxygen from the air to produce electricity.

GM said the reformer technology used in the vehicle had the potential to create significant gains in fuel economy. According to the company, the modified S-10 pickup is 40% more efficient than conventional S-10 models. The pickup achieves 40 miles per gallon, produces 50% less in carbon dioxide emissions, and produces only trace amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.

"This vehicle and the reforming technology in it move us closer to a hydrogen economy," said Larry Burns, GM's vice president of research and development, and planning. "This is a drivable lab that is helping us to learn to reform fuels for fuel cells to power cars, homes and businesses."

GM said that the reformer technology provided opportunities for further carbon dioxide emissions reductions -- by taking the reformer out of the vehicle and placing it at a refueling station. This would still allow people to refuel as they do currently, the only difference being that the pump would supply hydrogen that had been reformed from gasoline.

Reformed gasoline is considered by many to be a logical step in the commercialization of fuel cells vehicles because it provides a supply of power that is compatible with the existing fueling infrastructure. The long-term goal of many automakers is to produce vehicles that are powered by fuel cells that use pure hydrogen to produce electricity because this would produce no harmful pollution.

GM said it will test the S-10 fuel cell pickup over the next year to determine and improve its range, efficiency, emissions levels, and fuel-reforming characteristics.

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