BMW R&T Shows Hydrogen Fuel Cell Hybrid and On-Board Reformer

BMW Series 1 FCV mockup
BMW Reformer

In brief: BMW's Research and Technology wing (Forschung and Technik) showed the results of two projects: a prototype fule-cell hybrid vehicle and an on-board reformer to produce hydrogen from conventional hydrocarbon fuels.

The word

BMW FCV mockup

The prototype hybrid fuel cell vehicle (FCV) is a Series 1 car using a 5kW fuel cell alternative power unit (APU), a 4-cylinder gasoline engine, and an electric motor.

The fuel cell is optimized for low-speed operation to provide enough power to run the car all-electric at low speeds while providing power to augment ICE operations at full speeds.

The power from the hydrogen APU is send through high-performance supercapacitors for short-term storage and to provide large boosts of power to the motor during operation. The gasoline engine runs the front wheels while the electric motors run the rear axle of the car.

BMW Exhaust Reformer

Meanwhile, the reformer is meant to augment the HFC operations by reforming hydrocarbons (from gasoline/diesel exhaust)into hydrogen.

This technology is meant primarily to cut emissions during cold start operations in order to allow for lower idle during cold starts and to cut emissions by splitting exhaust gases into hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which is then fed back into the manifold for re-burn.

In current engines, the idle speeds are run high at cold start in order to quickly heat up the catalytic converter, which filters exhaust gases. Until it reaches temperature, however, the exhaust that's expelled is unfiltered and is a large reason many vehicle have higher emissions numbers for an EPA or EU average.

This reformer could transform that into better numbers as the cold exhaust fumes would be recycled and burnt during the warmup phase.

And so ...

Interesting developments from BMW on these fronts.

Photo credits: BMW

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