BMW is seeking alternative means to power their factories.
BMW has been adding greener and more fuel-efficient engines to their lineups for quite some time now, however they have just launched a new pilot program to make their manufacturing process more environmentally-friendly as well. The plan consists of using methane gas from nearby landfills as a source of hydrogen fuel to power and sustain the manufacturing process at their plants. The pilot project consists of several steps, the first of which involves looking at the feasibility of the project.
This is followed up by providing infrastructure that can convert the hydrogen fuel to power for the German automakers' processing and material handling equipment. BMW has already started this project in North America. In September 2010 at the company's plant in South Carolina, they installed a hydrogen storage and distribution area. The hydrogen fuel cells there power just shy of 100 material-handling vehicles in their new BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle-producing facility. The 1.2 million square foot assembly room couldn't run without the help of those hydrogen cells.
From Autoevolution, we learned that the current pilot program could go full-swing into a system that could power the largest single-site deployment of fuel cell material handling equipment in the world. Josef Kerscher, President of BMW Manufacturing recently said: "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. In the spirit of continuous improvement, we are always pursuing additional, sustainable methods of capturing renewable energy, including our existing source of landfill gas."
BMW isn't putting all their eggs in one basket though, as they are currently involved in joint projects with the United States' Department of Energy. The projects involve developing efficient hydrogen storage systems for use in future cars and motor vehicles.