Eaton gets $2 million from U.S. for fuel cell work

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 29, 2012 6:48 PM
Eaton gets $2 million from U.S. for fuel cell work

(Reuters) - Auto supplier Eaton Corp will get a $2 million grant for work to reduce the costs of fuel cell components, the U.S. Department of Energy said on Thursday.

The three-year project will seek to boost the performance of fuel cells for vehicles and stationary devices while reducing costs, the department said.

"Advancing hydrogen and fuel cell technology is an important part of the Energy Department's efforts to support the President's all-of-the-above energy strategy, helping to diversify America's energy sector and reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement.

Eaton, which makes electrical control systems, auto and truck components, is headquartered in Cleveland. The fuel cell work will be done at its site in Southfield, Michigan in suburban Detroit.

An Eaton spokesman said that work on the project will begin in the second half of this year. No new jobs will be created initially, he said.

Fuel cells convert a fuel, usually hydrogen or natural gas, into electricity which can then used to power cars and trucks. They are a minor player in the automotive industry's effort to find alternatives to gasoline-fueled engines. However, some see zero-emission fuel cells one day being a viable alternative if, in part, costs decrease and efficiency and durability increase.

The DOE targets fuel cell durability of 5,000 hours, which it says is equal to 150,000 miles of driving, and a cost of $30 per kilowatt hour, by 2017.

(Reporting By Bernie Woodall; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)