When we first heard about the new mono-fuel BMW Hydrogen 7, we were rather impressed by the extremely low emissions numbers posted by the model when tested at Argonne National Laboratory. The fact that BMW was able to reduce the emissions, boast better range and make more power as compared to their previous-generation Hydrogen 7 was pretty cool. According to Dr. Thomas Wallner, lead engineer in Argonne's hydrogen vehicle testing activities, "[The Hydrogen 7's] engine actively cleans the air. Argonne's testing shows that the Hydrogen 7's engine actually shows emissions levels that, for certain components, such as Non Methane Organic Gases (NMOG's) and Carbon Monoxides (CO's), are cleaner than the ambient air that comes into the car's engine."

So, because air is required for the hydrogen combustion, and there are pollutants already present in the air, at times the exhaust from the BMW is cleaner than the air it took in. Does that warrant BMW referring to their hydrogen-burner as a "pollution-consuming internal combustion engine?" Perhaps we're just picking nits, but that sounds a wee bit like greenwashing. It's not like the overall air is cleaner after going through the system, after all. Read their entire press release after the break.

Press Release:

BMW SHOWCASES POLLUTION-CONSUMING INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE VEHICLE AT 2008 SAE WORLD CONGRESS

Woodcliff Lake, NJ - April 14, 2008... BMW announces its latest milestone in its pursuit of the hydrogen future, the BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel, featuring an internal combustion engine in the BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel that produces near zero emissions while, at the same time, combusting ambient air pollutants. Based on the BMW Hydrogen 7 bi-fuel version (gasoline and hydrogen), the new mono-fuel vehicle's internal combustion engine is optimized to run solely on hydrogen and shares the performance, comfort, and safety qualities of every production BMW 7 Series. One of the BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel vehicles is featured in the BMW Booth at the 2008 SAE World Congress being held this week in Detroit.

The BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel is equipped with a 6.0-liter internal combustion engine (ICE) which has been engineered to run exclusively on hydrogen. This vehicle achieves near zero emissions, excellent engine performance, reduced fuel consumption and greater range compared to the bi-fuel Hydrogen 7. Since the consumed hydrogen has no carbon, the engine itself would produce no CO2, hydrocarbons, or other pollutants; however, the existing pollutants in the surrounding air are consumed by the engine, plus minute amounts of lubricating oil. The result is virtually undetectable exhaust emissions. New procedures for exhaust gas measurement and analysis, therefore, had to be developed together with experts at the Argonne National Laboratory, the only test laboratory in the USA capable of measuring such minute emissions.

"The mono-fuel Hydrogen 7 is the result of more than 25 years of hydrogen development by BMW," noted Tom Baloga, Vice-President of Engineering for BMW in the U.S. "It demonstrates BMW's support for a hydrogen infrastructure by producing an internal combustion engine that produces truly near-zero emissions while simultaneously cleaning the air of certain pollutants."

In BMW's view, hydrogen is the most logical energy carrier of the future for three reasons. First, it has no carbon and therefore hydrogen combustion generates no CO2, HCs and other pollutants. Second, it can be produced using renewable, clean technologies like solar, wind, geothermal, and bio-processes. Lastly,it can be produced in stable areas of the globe as necessary for energy security. Although today's hydrogen is mainly derived from natural gas, hydrogen can and will be "green" from renewable and clean sources in the future. Unlike batteries, which will likely also play an important role in future transportation, hydrogen vehicles can be refueled rather quickly for long trips, don't require powerlines across the landscape, and hydrogen can be generated and stored 24/7 when wind is greatest or demand for electricity is low.

The BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel is a demonstration production vehicle, not a prototype. It was created to showcase the clean energy potential and feasibility of a dedicated hydrogen ICE. In addition, the BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel delivers additional experience in the everyday use of hydrogen beyond what has already been learned with the nearly 100 bi-fuel Hydrogen 7 Sedans that have been used in a consumer test drive program since November 2006.

The Hydrogen 7's mono-fuel ICE exemplifies BMW's commitment to clean energy while maintaining the excellent performance BMW owners have come to expect. In fact, the tailpipe emissions are so infinitesimal, they pushed the limits of current emission testing technology.

Independent authorities, including Argonne, have confirmed the excellent results. Argonne conducted emission tests on BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel vehicles in early March 2008 and helped develop new sophisticated procedures necessary to detect the almost undetectable.

"The BMW Hydrogen 7's emissions were only a fraction of SULEV level, making it one of the lowest emitting combustion engine vehicles that have been manufactured," said Dr. Thomas Wallner, lead engineer in Argonne's hydrogen vehicle testing activities. "Moreover, the car's engine actively cleans the air. Argonne's testing shows that the Hydrogen 7's engine actually shows emissions levels that, for certain components, such as Non Methane Organic Gases (NMOG's) and Carbon Monoxides (CO's), are cleaner than the ambient air that comes into the car's engine." This means that a hydrogen-powered ICE is not only incredibly clean by itself, but it actually removes certain air polluting gases from natural and man-made sources.

BMW and Argonne will hold a joint press conference about the ground-breaking results at the SAE Congress in Detroit at the BMW booth beginning at 1:30 pm (EST) on Monday, April 14th. Christoph Huss, Vice-President-Development Abroad, Type Approval and Traffic Management; Tom Baloga, Vice-President - Engineering US; and Wolfgang Thiel, Manager of Emissions Testing Equipment, will represent BMW at the press conference. Wallner and Don Hillebrand, Director of the Center for Transportation Research, will represent Argonne.

For technical details of the Argonne results please visit the following link: http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/HV/475.pdf

[Source: BMW]

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