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BMW Manufacturing Introducing Hydrogen Fuel Cell Material Handling Equipment

BMW Manufacturing Co. is implementing a new alternative fuel platform to use hydrogen fuel cells to power the plant’s material handling equipment. Hydrogen fuel cell-powered forklifts, tuggers and stackers will be used in BMW’s new assembly hall that produces the new BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle. Initially, the hydrogen-powered material handling fleet will consist of more than 85 pieces of equipment, making it one of the largest hydrogen fuel-cell fleets in the US.

Implementation of this new technology has been done in concert with partners from Linde North America and Plug Power.

Installation of a storage and distribution center within BMW’s existing Energy Center, an 11 Megawatt facility, along with six on-site fueling stations were recently completed by BMW at their only North American manufacturing facility in South Carolina. The hydrogen used for this project was manufactured at the most sustainable source within Linde’s network, BMW said.

Fuel cells offer a much longer operating life than lead-acid batteries. Fuel cells provide continuous power with no loss of power as the tank nears empty as opposed to battery-powered equipment that run slower as the battery nears empty. These units, when full, run on a 2 kilogram fuel tank and run for 8-10 hours. Fuel cell units can be refueled by a driver in less than three minutes at an on-site hydrogen fueling station. On average, it takes about 20 minutes to re-fuel a depleted battery.

Since hydrogen is the only source of energy for the fuel cells being used in the new facility, BMW Manufacturing estimates that this project will avoid 1.8 million kilowatt hours per year of electricity consumption at the plant that would have been used to charge a battery-powered fleet.

BMW’s Landfill Gas to Energy initiative, started in early 2003, approximately 50% of the plant’s total energy requirements using methane from a local landfill, a previously wasted resource.



They obviously aren't describing cars or similar equipment so it is hard to extrapolate the 85 plant, 11 megawatt 6 station facility.
Tha they have a landfill - methane -hydrogen approach to this stage is commendable.

Fuel cells in indoor and mining aplication seem a very good fit.


The mining industry often uses compressed air as the power source as it is the safest energy source. Batteries release hydrogen during charging and this is considered dangerous-I'm not sure how these fuel cell equipments will fare when the hydrogen leaks!!


Hi johne,
Of course the mining environment has safety issues and most all have the poisonous and explosive gasses to contend with.

There are monitoring and extra precautions available and commonplace, but I was thinking more the elimination of engine emissions in those more? common diesel and electric operations.Viz also tunnel construction with large workforce.

As well it would seem that the explosive air mies could use one of the current mine head gas generation technologies to produce and store usefull amounts of H2.

There are mines in Aus that are operated by surface crew using remote communications, (as per them rollout covering much of nth western Australias largest mining operations and surface transport including road and rail. that is - Driverless.
Absolutely well underway , being currently impliemented and run from either near surface or Perth.

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