BMW Spartanburg Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

BMW is increasing the use of hydrogen in assembly line equipment powered by fuel cells, including fork lifts and motorized parts delivery carts. The fuel cells also will help power the company's vehicle test fleet, which has doubled in the past few years to more than 200. The additional fuel cell material – hydrogen – is being manufactured at BMW's four million square foot factory in Spartanburg, SC.

BMW has added two new high-capacity compressors, new storage tubes and distribution piping, and eight new hydrogen dispensers to existing equipment, installed in 2010. The expanded system will deliver at least 400kg of hydrogen daily, part of BMW's commitment to what it calls "sustainable mobility," which includes fuel cell vehicles, electrics such as the i8 supercar and i3 city car, and its active hybrids. The Munich-based company also is committed to finding new, energy-efficient and cost-efficient ways to produce energy.

Part of that mission includes a pilot project with the South Carolina Research Authority to convert methane gas, which is produced "naturally" in landfills, into hydrogen. To do this, BMW has installed a system to remove sulphur and trace contaminants from landfill gas and, ultimately, produce hydrogen via a steam methane reformer (SMR). The US Department of Energy is providing technical and funding support for this project.

Late this year, BMW will conduct side-by-side trials of equipment fueled by hydrogen produced from landfill gas versus commercially sourced hydrogen. The hope is the test will show that rotting garbage can be turned into usable fuel to power vehicles of the future. BMW's US plant currently produces 38 percent of its electricy needs on-site, mostly from this landfill gas-to-energy program.


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BMW Manufacturing Expands Use of Hydrogen Fuel Cells
13.03.2013

Spartanburg, S.C. – March 13, 2013...BMW Manufacturing announced today the successful expansion of the company's hydrogen fuel-cell material handling equipment across its 4.0 million square foot production facility. In 2010, BMW completed the installation of a hydrogen storage and distribution area near the plant's Energy Center to power about 100 pieces of fuel cell material handling equipment. Since that time, the company has more than doubled its hydrogen-fuel cell fleet to approximately 230 units to service the entire plant's production and logistics functions.

"BMW continues to complement its sustainable production model by adding alternative, efficient technology, said Josef Kerscher, President of BMW Manufacturing. "Successful implementation, and ultimately expansion, of our hydrogen fuel cell material handling fleet has provided a sustainable energy source that exceeds our expectations."

The additional usage of the hydrogen fuel cell system was executed by adding two new higher-capacity compressors, new storage tubes and distribution piping, and eight new hydrogen dispensers. The expanded system will deliver at least 400kg of Hydrogen per day. BMW estimates that the expanded system will avoid 4.1 million kw/hours per year, up from 1.8 million kw hours/year for the initial hydrogen fuel cell system.

BMW also released a project update to the Landfill Gas-to-Hydrogen Pilot Project. The first phase of the study, that validated the economic and technical feasibility, began in July 2011. The project has now successfully moved to the second phase of methane-to-hydrogen conversion. The project team, led by South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA), is implementing and testing equipment that will monitor the hydrogen purity. To do this, BMW has installed a clean-up system that takes a stream of landfill gas (post-siloxane removal), removes the sulfur and trace contaminants and, ultimately, produces hydrogen via a Steam Methane Reformer (SMR).

"BMW is very pleased with the progress we have been able to achieve in the last 18 months, said Cleve Beaufort, BMW Group's Energy Manager for the U.S. and Canada. "The objective of generating renewable hydrogen from methane is proving to be a possible option for BMW and will be transformational for the fuel cell industry."

Throughout this project, SCRA has been a leading funding and implementation partner. The U.S. Department of Energy has also provided both technical and funding support for the project.

The final phase of this project is scheduled to begin in late 2013. At that time, BMW will conduct side-by-side trials of material handling equipment fueled by landfill gas derived hydrogen versus commercially sourced hydrogen.

For their efforts in on-site energy production, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently named BMW Manufacturing the second largest Green Power Partner. Green Power rankings recognize U.S. businesses and communities that are making investments in on-site power generation. BMW's U.S. plant currently produces 38% of its electrical requirements on-site, mostly from its landfill gas-to-energy program.