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Thursday Throwback Story: BMW X5 SUV Will Have a Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Version in Production in 2022

By April 29, 2021 6   min read  (1028 words)

April 29, 2021 |

Fuel cells works, hydrogen, BMW, fuel cells, Thursday

BMW: “Fuel Cell Could have the Potential to Become Another Pillar in the Portfolio of BMW”

Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier visits the BMW Group’s hydrogen competence center.

  • Hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to become another pillar in the drive portfolio
  • Altmaier: BMW has the courage and innovative strength to make this technology a market success

BMW to have Fuel Cell Version in 2022Munich–The development of alternative, CO 2 -free forms of drive have top priority for the BMW Group. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier personally got an impression of the company’s competence in hydrogen fuel cell technology at the BMW Group Research and technology house. During the tour of the hydrogen competence center, the CEO of BMW AG, Oliver Zipse, together with the hydrogen experts, gave insights into the manufacturing process of the second generation of the BMW Group’s fuel cell drive.

CEO of BMW AG, Oliver Zipse said,  “Politicians have recognized the importance of green hydrogen for the energy system of the future. We expressly welcome the various initiatives. For road traffic, an expansion of the tank infrastructure is now required, which takes into account the needs of both commercial vehicles and cars. Depending on how the general conditions develop, hydrogen fuel cell technology has the potential to become another pillar in the BMW Group’s drive portfolio. ”

Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy said, “With the National Hydrogen Strategy and the billions promised to be implemented in the economic stimulus package, the Federal Government has sent a clear signal. We will shape the framework and actively support the economy in the development and use of hydrogen technology. However, the marketable implementation of hydrogen technologies lies with the companies. I am therefore very happy that there are many companies like BMW in Germany that have the vision, the courage and the innovative strength to make this technology a market success. ”

The BMW Group also has experience with the use of hydrogen outside of drive development. The company has always followed the approach of resource-saving production. The BMW Group Leipzig plant has been operating hydrogen-powered industrial trucks since 2013 . The use of innovative hydrogen technology offers the site the long-term opportunity to further promote decarbonization. With the Green Deal and the Next Generation EU, the European Union has also focused on hydrogen technology.

On the way to the small series of the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT
BMW to have Fuel Cell Version in 2022 2The BMW Group has been working with Toyota Motor Corporation on fuel cell drive systems since 2013. Since summer 2015, the BMW Group has been testing development vehicles based on the BMW 5 Series GT that are equipped with a jointly developed fuel cell system. During his visit, Federal Minister of Economics Altmaier took the opportunity to drive such a development vehicle himself.

In the next step, the BMW Group will pilot the second generation of drives in a small series in the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT based on the current BMW X5 from 2022. The so-called fuel cell stack and the overall system are original developments from the BMW Group. The individual cells of the fuel cell come from Toyota. An automated research facility for the production of fuel cell stacks is used in the manufacture of the X5 pilot fleet, which is part of the “Auto Stack Industry” project funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.was built up. The testing of innovative production technologies is an important step in the preparation of scalable, time, cost and quality-optimized production of hydrogen fuel cell drives.

In the future, the hydrogen fuel cell drive can be an attractive alternative to battery-electric vehicles, especially for customers who do not have access to their own electrical charging infrastructure and who often drive long distances. With a sufficient refueling infrastructure, hydrogen vehicles offer great flexibility, since the full range is available again after a short refueling process of around four minutes – regardless of temperature conditions.

Second generation: details of the drive in the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT.

The system performance of the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT comes to a total of 275 kW (374 hp) and ensures typical BMW driving dynamics. “In the drive system of the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT, the fuel cell system generates up to 125 kW (170 hp) of electrical energy, which is obtained from the chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen from the air,” says Jürgen Guldner, Head of the BMW Group Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology and vehicle projects. This means that the vehicle only emits water vapor. The electrical converter, which is located below the fuel cell, adjusts its voltage level to that of the electrical drive and the power buffer battery. This is fed by the braking energy and the energy of the fuel cell. The vehicle itself houses two 700 bar tanks, which together hold six kilograms of hydrogen. Guldner: “This guarantees long ranges in all weather conditions. The refueling process only takes three to four minutes ”. The fifth generation of the electric drive, as used for the first time in the BMW iX3, is also fully integrated into the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT. The power buffer battery, which is positioned above the electric machine, can provide additional dynamics when overtaking or accelerating, for example. Equipped with this hydrogen fuel cell electric drive, the BMW Group 2022 will present a small series based on the current BMW X5.

BMW Group in the BRYSON research project.
The BMW Group also underscores the belief in the future viability and potential of hydrogen fuel cell technology with its involvement in the BRYSON research project (space-efficient HYdrogen storage facilities with optimized usability). The aim of this amalgamation of BMW AG, Munich University of Applied Sciences, Leichtbauzentrum Sachsen GmbH, Dresden University of Technology, and WELA Handelsgesellschaft mbH is to develop new types of hydrogen pressure accumulators. These should be designed so that they can be easily integrated into universal vehicle architectures. The aim of the project is the development of flat tank tanks. The three-and-a-half-year project, which is also funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, will also result in a reduction in the manufacturing costs of hydrogen tanks for fuel cell vehicles. This will improve their competitiveness compared to battery electric vehicles.

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