updated 1/13/2004 2:40:37 PM ET 2004-01-13T19:40:37

General Motors Corp. and Duke University have agreed on a multiyear teaching and research project to further efforts to develop fuel-cell technology by 2010, the automaker and university said Tuesday.

Duke's Fuqua School of Business will lead the project with participation from the Pratt School of Engineering and the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy. Duke is in Durham, N.C.

The endeavor begins Wednesday with the start of a graduate-level course for students that will teach them to understand and manage a broad set of issues associated with technological change.

GM, the world's largest automaker, has given Duke an initial donation of about $500,000 for the project.

Fuel cells produce electricity through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, creating heat and water, rather than polluting emissions, as byproducts. One significant hurdle is figuring out how to store the hydrogen.

Even with major advances in fuel-cell technology, it's expected to be the end of the decade at the earliest before such vehicles hit the market.

The world's major automakers, including GM, Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG, are working on fuel-cell vehicle development.

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