BMW has launched a development car which uses Hydrogen as its power source.
The BMW iX5 Hydrogen could be the German marque’s first move at alternative power provision to the Electric revolution. I take a look at what this car has to offer.
Hydrogen is a better solution to replacing the Internal Combustion Engine than full electric is. I have driven one Hydrogen car and loved it. That was the Toyota Mirai, and it impressed me hugely. You fill your vehicle with Hydrogen at a fuel station like a petrol or diesel vehicle. It is clean and straightforward and avoids any need for charging, which is currently costing more and more. I believe more manufacturers will look at Hydrogen as a source to power vehicles, so looking at the BMW trial is exciting.
BMW is presenting international media representatives with the first vehicles in a pilot fleet of Hydrogen powered iX5s. Following four years of development, the BMW iX5 Hydrogen vehicle is ready to be put through its paces by Journalists.
Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG,
“Hydrogen is a versatile energy source that has a key role in the energy transition process and, therefore in climate protection. After all, it is one of the most efficient ways of storing and transporting renewable energies. We should use this potential to also accelerate the transformation of the mobility sector. Hydrogen is the missing piece in the jigsaw when it comes to emission-free mobility. One technology on its own will no-fornable climate-neutral mobility worldwide.”
The BMW iX5 Hydrogen.
The BMW Group is systematically pushing forward with the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology as an additional option for locally emission-free individual mobility in the future. The BMW iX5 Hydrogen has been developed on the platform of the current BMW X5. Its hydrogen fuel cell system proves the BMW Group’s leading development expertise in electric drive technologies.
BMW’s technological expertise.
The BMW Group produces the pilot fleet’s highly efficient fuel cell systems at its in-house competence centre for Hydrogen in Munich. This technology is one of the core elements in the BMW iX5 Hydrogen and generates a high continuous output of 125 kW/170 hp.
A chemical reaction occurs in the fuel cell between gaseous Hydrogen from the tanks and oxygen from the air. Maintaining a steady supply of both elements to the fuel cell’s membrane is crucial for the drive system’s efficiency. In addition to the technological equivalents of features found on combustion engines, such as charge air coolers, air filters, control units and sensors, the BMW Group also developed unique hydrogen components for its new fuel cell system. These include the high-speed compressor with turbine and high-voltage coolant pump.
The BMW Group sources the individual fuel cells from the Toyota Motor Corporation. The two companies have enjoyed a partnership characterized by trust for years and have collaborated on fuel cell drive systems since 2013.
Fuel cell systems are manufactured in two steps based on the individual fuel cells. They are first assembled into a fuel cell stack. The next step involves fitting all the other components to produce a complete fuel cell system.
Stacking the fuel cells is essentially a fully automated process. Once the components are inspected for damage, the stack is compressed and placed in a housing. The stack housing is manufactured in the light metal foundry at BMW Group Plant Landshut using a sand casting technique. For this, molten aluminium is poured into a mould made from compacted sand mixed with resin in a process specially designed for this small-series vehicle.
The pressure plate, which delivers Hydrogen and oxygen to the fuel cell stack, is made from cast plastic parts and light-alloy castings, also from the Landshut plant. The pressure plate forms a gas-tight and water-tight seal around the stack housing.
The final assembly of the fuel cell stacks includes a voltage test and extensive chemical reaction testing within the cells. Finally, all the components are fitted together in the assembly area to produce the complete system.
In combination with a highly integrated drive unit using fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology (the electric motor, transmission and power electronics are grouped in a compact housing) at the rear axle and a powerful battery with lithium-ion technology developed especially for this vehicle, the powertrain channels maximum output of 295kW / 401 hp onto the road. In coasting overrun and braking phases, the motor also serves as a generator, feeding energy back into a power battery.
Hydrogen allows rapid re-fuelling.
The Hydrogen needed to supply the fuel cell is stored in two 700-bar tanks made of carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP). Together, these hold almost six kilograms of Hydrogen, enough to give the BMW iX5 Hydrogen a 504 km (313 miles) range in the WLTP cycle. Filling up the hydrogen tanks only takes three to four minutes – so the BMW iX5 Hydrogen can also provide the driving pleasure for which BMW is renowned over long distances, with just a few short stops.
Other manufacturers are looking at Hydrogen as a power source for vehicles, but apart from Toyota, there is only Hyundai with their Nexo Hydrogen vehicle, that have cars available to purchase. It is unclear how long before the BMW iX5 Hydrogen will be available to the public.
Summary of the technical data, performance, fuel consumption and range figures for the BMW iX5 Hydrogen:
Maximum output of overall drive system: 295 kW/401 hp
Electric continuous output of the fuel-cell system: 125 kW/170 hp
Maximum output of the battery (lithium-ion technology): 170 kW/231 hp
Maximum output of the highly integrated electric drive unit: 295 kW/401 hp
The capacity of the hydrogen tanks: 6 kg hydrogen (gaseous)
Acceleration: 0-100 km/h (62 mph) < 6 s
Top speed: Over 180 km/h (112 mph)
Hydrogen consumption in the WLTP cycle: 1.19 kg/100 km
Range in the WLTP cycle: 504 km (313 miles)