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BMW INTRODUCES WORLD'S FIRST PRODUCTION-BASED HYDROGEN POWERED CAR
11.05.2000 Press Release
BMW presented the world's first production-based hydrogen car in Berlin, the BMW 750hL.
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Munich, Germany, May 11th, 2000... BMW presented the world's first
production-based hydrogen car in Berlin, the BMW 750hL. The luxurious sedans
will be used as shuttles for the entire duration of the EXPO 2000. These
vehicles are built on the same production line in Dingolfing as normal
production 7 Series. They will demonstrate to all who experience them that
they meet the very highest requirements for comfort, dynamics and utility value
at market-appropriate costs. "And we will be the first automobile manufacturer
in the world to offer series production hydrogen cars," says Dr. Burkhard
Göschel, Development Director of the BMW Group.
Thousands of Hydrogen Cars and Adequate Infrastructure by 2010
Dr. Burkhard Göschel: "Our vision is to have a hydrogen fuel station available
in the vicinity of the branches of the BMW Group in Germany by the 11th of May
2005." BMW offers international energy companies close cooperation for the
development of a hydrogen fuel station network: "Our aim is to have a
sufficient network of hydrogen fuel stations all over Europe by the year 2010,"
says the development chief. By then BMW has planned to have sold several
thousand hydrogen cars. The prices for the cars and for the fuel are to be
similar to those of conventional cars and fuels.
750hL: A Hydrogen Sedan For Everyday Use
The hydrogen technology used in the 12-cylinder sedans has already advanced so
far that it permits realistic planning for large series production. BMW has
extended its leading position in the development of the CleanEnergy car.
CleanEnergy is the generic term for the ecologically ideal, closed energy cycle
based on water.
Running on hydrogen, the 12-cylinder engine delivers 204-horsepower and
accelerates from standstill to 100 km/h in 9.6 seconds, while achieving a top
speed of 226 km/h. Fitted with the 140 liter Cryo fuel tank, the fully
equipped 7 Series has an additional range of 350 kilometers. The car features
a conventional fuel supply too, since the availability of hydrogen fuel is
limited. After the EXPO in Hanover is over, the sedans will drive back to
Munich on their own power using conventional fuel.
The engine itself differs mainly only with regard to the intake duct with
additional injection valves for the hydrogen. The production of the 750hL was
incorporated as much as possible into the normal production process. The
12-cylinder engines were integrated into production in the Dingolfing plant and
assembled together with the conventional spark-ignition and diesel engines.
The hydrogen is stored cryogenically - i.e. in super-chilled and liquid form -
at a temperature of around minus 250 degrees Celsius in a double-walled steel
tank behind the rear seat-backs. Two safety valves ensure controlled
ventilation in the case of excess pressure. They are also part of the
comprehensive safety concept which proved its reliability in numerous crash
tests. Even in a massive rear-end collision in which the tank would be
affected in its protected area, the steel cylinder with its double
two-millimeter thick walls did not leak. Even greater deformations which might
cause a leak in the tank, would not cause it to explode. For an explosion to
occur, hydrogen and air would have to mix but due to the higher inner pressure
of the hydrogen, air cannot enter the tank.
The First Production-Based Cars With Fuel Cell
A number of the BMW hydrogen sedans are the first production-based cars to
feature a fuel cell for supplying on-board electricity. This "electrochemical"
battery takes on the function it does best: the production of electricity with
a very high degree of efficiency of up to 50 percent. The compact fuel cell
battery in the 7 Series with hydrogen drive is only as big as a conventional
lead-acid battery. However the five kilowatt unit outperforms the best of
these by far. The so-called fuel cell APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) not only
takes on the supply of all conventional electric components, but also allows
for new functions. The trailblazing 7 Series model features stationary air
conditioning which cools the interior even if the engine is turned off.
Pioneering Service Concept: Permanent Checking Function via Radiotelematics
Like the Formula 1 racing cars, all 750hLs are radio-linked to the service
computer in the development workshop in Munich - 24 hours a day. This enables
the monitoring of all systems continually and facilitates reacting instantly
to any situation. Not only is all of the hydrogen data transmitted and
checked, but all the data processed by the standard bus system in the 7 Series,
as well. "The workshop knows that something is wrong before the driver does",
explains Klaus Pehr, the BMW engineer responsible for hydrogen cars. The
insights gained are incorporated into the on-going improvement of the hydrogen
fleet. By means of a rotating deployment plan for the environment-friendly 7
Series, all cars are brought up-to-date as quickly as possible. After the
world exhibition is over on October 31st, all vehicles will have received the
The telematic checking system has already proved its usefulness in the
development stage. Thanks to this system, the car check conducted every
evening in Hanover is reduced to a short operation in the branch where mainly
only the sensors have to be calibrated. There the 750hLs are also refueled with
hydrogen using a so-called mobile "Cryo-Can".
Hydrogen Engines: Lean-Burning Mixtures Prevent Emissions
Since the end of the seventies, BMW has been dealing with the topic of hydrogen
drive. Five generations of hydrogen cars have hit the road, each based on the
BMW 7 Series of the time.
Today too, the basic engine is a series-production engine, but the hydrogen
drive calls for some changes ranging from the fuel system to the mixture
formation process. An electronic mixture formation system has been developed
which precisely matches hydrogen injection and charge changes. Combustion
generally takes place with an excess of air. The additional air in the
combustion chamber absorbs heat and reduces the flame temperature to below the
critical level above which the mixture could ignite by itself. At the same
time the low combustion temperature also prevents the production of nitric
oxides (NOx), which have to be detoxified by catalytic converters in
petrol-engine cars. So even without additional exhaust emissions treatment, the
BMW hydrogen engines operate almost entirely without emissions. This
environment-friendly engine layout leads to a reduction in specific output.
However, this can be compensated for by means such as increasing the
displacement. Engines designed solely for hydrogen oper
ation do not have to make this compromise and are at least on par with
spark-ignition or diesel engines as far as specific output is concerned.
Refueling In Only Three Minutes
A further prerequisite for the introduction of hydrogen as fuel is a filling
system which must be no more complicated than filling a car today. The low
temperature of minus 250 degrees Celsius requires special refueling technology.
In cooperation with its project partners, BMW has developed a fueling system
which can be used to fill vehicles with hydrogen as quickly, loss-free and
safely as with conventional fuels. The latest version of this technology is
currently being used by the world's first public robotic fuel station for
liquid hydrogen at the Munich airport. The fully automatic hydrogen fueling
operation takes less than three minutes and is a simple process for the layman.
BMW Promotes Solar Electricity For Generating Hydrogen
Hydrogen can only be a sensible alternative to conventional fuels if the
electricity needed for generating it from water can be produced with renewable
energy sources. This can, for example, be achieved by means of solar cells
which produce electricity directly. Solar powerplants with groove-shaped
parabolic mirrors, which operate on the principle of the steam turbine, are a
promising alternative. Such a system is already in operation in the California
Mojave desert. In order to test such scenarios, BMW has joined the solar
hydrogen project in Neunburg vom Wald at an early stage, where the photovoltaic
generation of hydrogen and its use for different purposes was studied. The aim
is to produce sufficient amounts of hydrogen economically using solar energy.
BMW Supports Practice-Oriented Hydrogen Initiatives
BMW supports initiatives at all levels that help to create the necessary
conditions for the introduction of hydrogen powered cars. The "European
Integrated Hydrogen Project" for example aims at harmonizing hydrogen relevant
regulations internationally. The goal is to provide lawmakers with a sound
basis for making decisions. Concepts for standardizing infrastructure and
vehicle components are being developed.
BMW has joined together with nine partners from the world of business and
research for this purpose. Work is running on two tracks: a top-down process
will analyze already existing hydrogen relevant laws in Europe. On this basis
suggestions for Europe-wide standardization are to be worked out. The
bottom-up analysis examines existing vehicles and infrastructures to identify
safety relevant aspects. They will then be used as a basis for discussions
with the authorities. With this project, BMW aims to bring about general
licensing for hydrogen powered vehicles.
HYFORUM 2000: To Strengthen International Alliance For Hydrogen
In addition BMW has been very active in bringing about the international
hydrogen conference HYFORUM 2000 which will take place in Munich in September
2000. It is purposefully aimed at high-ranking decision-makers from industry,
finance, insurance and politics. Its goal is to bring together important
partners and to direct their attention to the topic of hydrogen as an energy
source. Wide-ranging cooperation is now called for in order to pave the way
for hydrogen to move from research to application. To achieve this, not only
are technical decisions needed, but political decisions as well. It is
expected that the HYFORUM 2000 will produce answers to the energy question in
the 21st century. As an international forum, HYFORUM 2000 will send out signals
to the entire world.