BMW presents the BMW iX5 Hydrogen to international media representatives in a pilot fleet that is set to be used internationally for demonstration and trial purposes. This is the first chance for people not involved in the development process to experience the vehicle’s capabilities.
Hydrogen is considered one of the most efficient ways to store and transport renewable energies, making it an ideal energy source for use in the energy transition process and climate protection. The BMW Group is systematically pushing forward the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology, making the BMW iX5 Hydrogen proof of the company’s leading development expertise in electric drive technologies.
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The BMW iX5 Hydrogen: Overview
The BMW iX5 Hydrogen, developed on the current BMW X5, was first introduced as a concept at the IAA show in 2019. This was followed by initial prototypes made available at the IAA Mobility 2021 for visitors to experience in action as shuttle vehicles. The vehicle’s hydrogen fuel cell system is evidence of the BMW Group’s leading development expertise in electric drive technologies.
The BMW Group is committed to the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology as an additional option for locally emission-free individual mobility in the future.
BMW’s Technological Expertise
The BMW Group produces highly efficient fuel cell systems for the pilot fleet at its in-house competence center 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 takes place 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. The BMW Group also developed special hydrogen components for its new fuel cell system, including the high-speed compressor with turbine and high-voltage coolant pump.
Fuel cell systems are manufactured in two main steps, based on the individual fuel cells. The cells 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 of the fuel cells is largely a fully automated process.
Once the individual components have been inspected for any damage, the stack is compressed by a machine with a force of five tonnes 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 aluminum 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 along with extensive testing of the chemical reaction within the cells. Finally, all the different components are fitted together in the assembly area to produce the complete system.
BMW iX5 Hydrogen Powertrain
The BMW iX5 Hydrogen’s powertrain combines a highly integrated drive unit using fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology (the electric motor, transmission, and power electronics are grouped together in a compact housing) at the rear axle and a power battery with lithium-ion technology developed especially for this vehicle.
The powertrain channels a maximum output of 295 kW/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.
The BMW iX5 Hydrogen is being built in the BMW Group’s pilot plant at its Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ) in Munich.
Hydrogen refueling stations are still a rare sight, and while the BMW iX5 Hydrogen is designed to take on long-distance routes, the company knows that it must also take a holistic approach to the topic of hydrogen refueling infrastructure. That is why BMW is investing in hydrogen refueling infrastructure to help make hydrogen mobility even more attractive.
BMW is partnering with the hydrogen supplier Linde to expand its network of hydrogen refueling stations, and already has plans to build four new stations in Munich, Stuttgart, Berlin, and Cologne. This is in addition to its existing refueling station at BMW’s Munich research center.
The BMW Group is also a founding member of the Hydrogen Council, an international consortium of companies working to promote hydrogen as an important building block in a sustainable energy system. The company is actively involved in a number of initiatives and projects aimed at promoting the development of hydrogen infrastructure.
The Hydrogen Council includes a range of companies from various sectors, including automotive, energy, and technology. Its members share a common goal of working towards a cleaner, more sustainable energy system.
BMW’s iX5 hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle is another important step in the German automaker’s ambitious plans to embrace a more sustainable and efficient future for mobility. The carmaker has been at the forefront of developing and promoting sustainable technologies in the automotive industry, and the iX5 Hydrogen is a clear demonstration of its commitment to exploring new avenues in clean energy.
The iX5 Hydrogen is a cutting-edge vehicle that combines BMW’s expertise in electric drivetrains and hydrogen fuel cells to create a truly unique and sustainable driving experience. With a range of 504 km (313 miles) and a top speed of 180 km/h (112 mph), it offers a driving experience that is comparable to traditional gasoline-powered cars, while producing zero emissions.
While there are still challenges to be overcome in terms of hydrogen refueling infrastructure, BMW is investing in new stations and partnering with companies like Linde to expand the network of refueling stations. With the iX5 Hydrogen, BMW is proving that sustainable, zero-emissions mobility is not only possible but also exciting and enjoyable.
As the world continues to face the urgent challenge of climate change, it is clear that companies like BMW have a crucial role to play in shaping a more sustainable future. By embracing new technologies and working together to build a more sustainable energy system, we can create a cleaner, greener world for generations to come. The BMW iX5 Hydrogen is an important step in that direction.