I received a press release a few days ago saying that the BMW Hydrogen 7 luxury car had been tested by the DOE (Department of Energy) Argonne National Laboratory and the results were that the vehicle actually cleans the ambient air surrounding it. Now, one would think that the proclamation that the 12-cylinder BMW Hydrogen 7 cleans the air is a bit far-fetched and rather suspect. But, it’s not and I’ll tell you why.
The Argonne National Laboratory is one of the very few facilities in the U. S. that has sensitive enough instrumentation to detect trace amounts of emissions in the near zero emissions category. The BMW Hydrogen 7 running with an internal combustion engine (ICE) was found to far surpass other ICE vehicles in the super-ultra low-emission vehicle (SULEV) category.
According to Argonne mechanical engineer Thomas Wallner, “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. Moreover, the car’s engine actively cleans the air. Argonne’s testing shows that the Hydrogen 7’s 12-cylinder engine actually shows emissions levels that, for certain components, are cleaner than the ambient air that comes into the car’s engine.”
Now, why did this not surprise me? In Dr. Roger Billings book “The Hydrogen World View,” he talks about the Brigham Young Superbeetle hydrogen ICE car that was tested in 1972 during the Urban Vehicle Design Competition.
According to Billings, “Minute quantities of carbon monoxide and unburnt hydrocarbons in the surrounding air were drawn into the combustion chamber of the hydrogen engine and burned. As a result, our score for unburned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide were both negative numbers.” Dr. Billings goes on to quote a General Motors technician who says, “This car cleans the air as it drives.”
For the critics who say that fuel cell vehicles are the only acceptable choice of hydrogen vehicle because they emit zero emissions, even FCV’s do not clean the surrounding air. Whether burning hydrogen in a fuel cell or ICE vehicle it matters not since the air quality will be so much cleaner for it.