DOE picks Delphi to develop fuel cell

Delphi Corporation has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to help develop a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) auxiliary power unit (APU) for long-haul trucks and other commercial vehicles.

The program will be conducted in collaboration with the DOE's Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Technologies program.

The DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Delphi will share the cost of the 3-year, $4.75 million project. Delphi will lead the technical development, working with subcontractor team member Volvo Trucks North America, Inc. and other OEM customers to be announced at a later date.

The program objective is to develop, construct and validate an SOFC APU system to help reduce truck idling, save fuel and reduce emissions.

"We're pleased to be working with the Department of Energy on this important project," said J.T. Battenberg III, Delphi chairman, chief executive officer and president. "As we know, the transportation of goods and services is a major element of the nation's economy and national security. The results of this program should help the United States' energy policy. Delphi's technology can help protect our environment and save fuel for our country, all while serving our customers in ways that will improve their driving and ownership experience."

According to DOE estimates, 840 million gallons of diesel fuel are consumed each year by the idling of 480,000 long-haul trucks, resulting in emissions of 20 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. It further generates air-polluting emissions of 100 million pounds of nitrogen oxides and 4 million pounds of particulates.

Delphi's SOFC APU can reduce the fuel usage and the corresponding emissions during idling by as much as 90 percent, according to DOE estimates.

The system will allow truck owners to power air conditioning, heater, TV, radio, computer and other electronic devices during the drivers' rest periods without having to keep their engines running.

The DOE's Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) and Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) had previously identified Delphi as a leader in this area. In 2001, the DOE entered into a 10-year, $138-million cost-sharing program with Delphi and Battelle to develop and test an SOFC APU that can be mass produced at low cost for commercial and military applications.

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