Groundwork begins on sustainable pilot project to use methane gas
from local landfill as source of hydrogen fuel.
Spartanburg, S.C. – July 25, 2011…BMW
Manufacturing announced today the launch of the first phase of an
integrated program of work with the intent to validate the economic
and technical feasibility of converting landfill gas into
hydrogen. If successful, the follow-up phases of the project
will provide infrastructure for using this hydrogen to fuel the
company’s entire fleet of material handling equipment.
The first phase of this million dollar, multi-phase project will be
funded by SCRA (South Carolina Research Authority). A unique
collaboration of partners from various government energy agencies and
other public and private sponsors will work together on future phases.
The project team will include BMW, Advanced Technology
International (a subsidiary of SCRA), the Gas Technology Institute,
Ameresco, Inc., and the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance.
This project expands upon BMW’s commitment to sustainable
energy development. Since 2003, methane gas has been collected,
cleaned and compressed from a local landfill and used to power more
than 50% of the BMW plant’s total energy requirements. In 2009,
the company invested $12 million in its landfill gas program to
further improve overall efficiency. Implementation of the
program has reduced CO2 emissions by about 92,000 tons per year and
saves about $5 million annually in energy costs.
In September 2010, BMW completed installation of a hydrogen storage
and distribution area within the existing Energy Center at its North
American manufacturing plant in South Carolina. The company is using
hydrogen fuel cells to power nearly 100 material handling vehicles in
the plant’s new 1.2 million square foot assembly facility that
produces the new BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle.
Success of this new project will allow BMW to
transition from the pilot-scale system into a full-scale system
capable of supporting the largest single-site deployment of fuel cell
material handling equipment in the world.
“This project allows testing of valuable technology to
determine if using locally-sourced hydrogen in our fuel cell equipment
can provide the necessary performance needed to expand our hydrogen
fuel cell fleet,” said Josef Kerscher, President of BMW
Manufacturing. “In the spirit of continuous improvement, we are
always pursuing additional, sustainable methods of capturing renewable
energy, including our existing source of landfill gas.”
“This landfill gas-to-hydrogen project at BMW will seek to
demonstrate a first-of-its-kind solution that will serve as a model
for other private sector companies,” said SCRA CEO Bill Mahoney.
“Projects like these further the Knowledge Economy of South
Carolina, and I am delighted to be working, together with our
partners, to launch this important project on the grounds of a
major South Carolina manufacturer. I am confident that this solution
to combine renewably-generated hydrogen with clean, efficient fuel
cell technology will improve productivity, reduce environmental
pollutants and relieve electrical power demand from the grid and am
optimistic that it will be replicated nationally.”
In addition to using hydrogen to power material handling equipment,
BMW is participating in two projects with the US Department of Energy
(DOE) to develop efficient storage of hydrogen for use in future motor
vehicles. Collaboration with the Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory on a project to produce and store cryo-compressed hydrogen
is ongoing, as well as a DOE project to efficiently store hydrogen via
a liquid organic carrier. These projects are part of a portfolio
of innovative concepts that are intended to enable industry to achieve
long range zero-emissions vehicles on the roads across America.