Hydrogen fueling stations using Linde technology have surpassed more than 1,000,000 fills for the fuel-cell driven material handling equipment at the BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
This is the most hydrogen fills at a single location anywhere in the world. While Linde hydrogen fueling systems involve very sophisticated technology, the filling operation is designed to be relatively simple and is much like putting gasoline into your car. This simplicity is a critical aspect to the success of hydrogen as a fuel.—Mike Beckman, vice president of Hydrogen Fueling-Linde North America
BMW now operates more than 350 forklifts to service the plant’s production and logistics functions, making it one of the largest fuel cell forklift sites in the world.
BMW’s relationship with Linde North America has greatly supported our company’s total commitment to sustainability. It has helped BMW to maintain its clear vision to reach our goal of using renewable energy as much as possible throughout the plant site. The annual energy avoidance of 4.1 million kW/hours and dramatic reductions in fueling time has positioned our hydrogen fuel cell material handling program to be an industry benchmark.—Duncan Seaman, BMW Group’s Vice President of Operations for the Americas Region
The lead acid batteries that formerly powered BMW’s lifts and trucks were replaced with GenDrive hydrogen fuel cell power solutions from Plug Power Inc., Linde’s associate in the BMW installation and the leading provider of hydrogen-based fuel cells in the material handling market.
BMW is able to boost productivity in two ways: reducing fueling time and increasing equipment performance. Gen-Drive-powered trucks with hydrogen using Linde’s equipment takes an operator less than three minutes, compared with 15-20 minutes to change out a battery. Also, power levels and performance from fuel cells do not degrade over time, as they do with lead-acid batteries.
BMW also is able to reduce its total electricity demand, since no battery recharging is required, and eliminate the environmental disposal costs for lead-acid batteries.