Delphi Breaks Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Cost Barrier With U.S. Department of Energy

Delphi introduces second generation solid oxide fuel cell.

Published: 06-Feb-2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Delphi Corp. (NYSE: DPH) is ahead of schedule on meeting the U.S. Department of Energy's cost and performance criteria for solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) auxiliary power unit technology, a leading government official said today.

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 its partner Battelle to develop and test a SOFC auxiliary power unit (APU) that can be mass produced at low cost for commercial and military applications. Delphi and the U.S. government are sharing the cost of the program.

A leading member of the DOE laboratory responsible for the technical coordination of SECA said Delphi has taken a clear leadership role in SOFC development. "Delphi's work in this area has been critical to our national fuel cell program," said Dr. Gary McVay, deputy associate lab director, Energy Division, for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), in Richland, Wash.

"Delphi has taken the lead in making solid oxide fuel cell technology viable for the commercial market," McVay said. "Others have attempted to develop these kind of fuel cells in the past, but none of them have been commercialized because of their high cost. The major advantage of Delphi is that their engineers live and breathe this stuff. They have the ability and the expertise to make low-cost, high-volume products, and that's precisely what's needed with alternate energy sources. While OEMs will ultimately offer fuel cell-containing vehicles, auto suppliers are absolutely critical in developing the technology."

"Delphi has taken the lead here, and they deserve great credit," McVay said. "They've pumped new life into the national fuel cell program, and their continued participation is vital."

The NETL and the PNNL are the two DOE laboratories responsible for the technical coordination of SECA.

Delphi Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President J.T. Battenberg III said that if progress continues as expected, Delphi's SOFC auxiliary power unit (APU) will be generating electricity for military applications, passenger cars, heavy-duty trucks and homes sometime during the second half of this decade.

"One of the key reasons why we've made great inroads in developing this technology is because we have a strong, collaborative partnership with the U.S. government," Battenberg said. "With the help of the Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) program, the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, we've greatly accelerated the development of a solid oxide fuel cell auxiliary power unit that's both powerful and affordable. It's my hope that the auto industry, the Bush administration and Congress are committed to keep working together so we can realize President Bush's vision sooner rather than later."

Delphi will display its second-generation SOFC auxiliary power unit during a DOE event to be held in Washington, D.C., today. The event will focus on how the U.S. government and the auto industry can work more closely together to help achieve President Bush's goal of making the United States energy independent while protecting the environment. Leading members of the Bush administration, the U.S. Congress and the auto industry are expected to attend. Battenberg will represent Delphi.


Delphi has been developing fuel cell technology for the past 10 years. Delphi's second-generation SOFC auxiliary power unit, which will be displayed at the DOE event, weighs 70 kilograms and displaces 44 liters of volume.

"Our new technology represents a 75 percent reduction in mass and volume over Delphi's first-generation unit, which makes commercial applications more economically viable," said Rodney O'Neal, president, Delphi Dynamics, Propulsion Thermal sector.

Delphi's technology is designed to generate auxiliary electric power for passenger, commercial and military applications, as well as serving as a stationary power unit. The unit is designed to generate 5kW, which would be enough to provide baseline power for many applications.

"The potential of this technology is enormous," said Guy C. Hachey, president, Delphi Energy Chassis Systems. "On passenger vehicles, it can power a vehicle's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, as well as other accessories, so a smaller combustion engine can be used to propel it. For the military, the technology can be used to help power combat and security vehicles. On semi trucks, it can be used to power air conditioning, heater, TV, radio, computer and other electronic devices during the drivers' rest periods to reduce the burning of diesel fuel, which will cut emissions. For homes and offices, solid oxide fuel cells can be used to generate electric power. This technology can be an important part in an overall plan to help the United States become more energy independent."


Delphi's solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) is an energy conversion device that produces electricity by the electrochemical combination of the hydrogen and carbon monoxide from fuel with the oxygen from the air. "The unit produces highly efficient electrical power at near zero emissions," said Dr. Jean Botti, chief technologist, Delphi Dynamics, Propulsion Thermal sector.

In more technical terms, the solid oxide fuel cell consists of anode and cathode electrodes separated by a solid electrolyte. The electrochemical combination of fuel and oxygen across the ion-conducting ceramic membrane produces the power.

To provide consumers with an auxiliary power source, Delphi's SOFC is designed to operate independent of the engine or power grid. To provide automakers with maximum flexibility, the hydrogen reformation feature of the unit may also be integrated with internal combustion engines to reduce engine emissions.

Delphi is the world's largest supplier of transportation technology, with more than $27.4 billion in annual sales. The company has more than 16,000 engineers worldwide, with technical expertise in systems integration and electronics. Throughout its 100-year history, Delphi has been a recognized leader in engine and energy management solutions. Two of the company's breakthrough achievements in this area include the world's first self-start engine and the world's first catalytic converter.

The DOE event will be held at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. at 401 F Street, NW St., from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. today.

For more information about Delphi and its operating subsidiaries, visit Delphi's Media Room at

For more information contact:


John Shea
Telephone: [1] 248.813.4704

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