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BMW Hydrogen 7-series

Mon, 04 Jun 2007

By Ben Whitworth

Motoring Issues

04 June 2007 07:01

BMW is upping its green credentials with the delivery of a fleet of hydrogen-powered 7-series that will go on chauffeur duty throughout the UK this summer.

The eight production-ready Hydrogen 7 luxo-barges are produced on the same production line as the standard 7-series in Munich and meet all current safety and crash regulations. They form part of a 100-strong fleet of liquid hydrogen–powered 7-series models that spearhead BMW’s CleanEnergy programme, and in the UK will be used at high-profile events around the country to underline their environmental profile.

A hydrogen filling station has been developed in Wembley to support BMW’s plans. The dual-fuel Beemers are fitted with an 8kg hydrogen tank that stores the liquid hydrogen at around 4bar and a consistent temperature of –250°C. They run a 260hp 12-cylinder engine that will touch 62mph in 9.5 seconds and top out at 143mph while producing nothing more than water vapour as a by-product. A full tank equates to a range of around 125miles. And when you’re low on hydrogen, a quick toggle of a steering wheel-mounted button switches the engine to unleaded to boost range by a further 300miles.

BMW hopes that by solving the chicken-or-the-egg debate – do manufacturers produce hydrogen-ready cars first and wait for energy suppliers to respond, or should fuel suppliers take the first step and set up a hydrogen infrastructure? – it will catalyse the development of a hydrogen highway, the fuelling and infrastructure requirements that make hydrogen a viable fuel for the consumer.

Hydrogen may clean at the exhaust pipe but it’s a hugely volatile and corrosive gas, and its production is a hugely energy-intensive process. Which means a dirty great big power station is never far away… So is hydrogen the real way forward or an environmental blind alley? Are biofuels based on CO2-absorbing crops more viable or will fuel cells rule? Let us know where you stand on this key green issue. Click the Add Comment button below and start typing…

By Ben Whitworth