If you think the price of going green is high, then you should think about the price of developing new green technology. This is why carmakers General Motors and BMW have decided to team up to co-develop new hydrogen fuel cell technology for cars.
According to Bloomberg, “Fuel cells generate electricity in the chemical reaction that combines hydrogen and oxygen to create water. BMW has largely ignored the technology in the past, focusing research on burning liquid hydrogen in a combustion engine. Daimler AG, the world’s third-biggest luxury-vehicle manufacturer, plans to introduce a fuel-cell-powered version of the Mercedes-Benz B- Class compact by 2014.
“The talks between BMW and Detroit-based GM were reported Dec. 10 by Germany’s WirtschaftsWoche magazine, which said the carmakers are close to signing a deal as early as January.”
In 1966, GM developed the first Electrovan hydrogen fuel cell car and has been leading the other automakers ever since. BMW, however, has been late to the fuel cell game as they have chosen for many years to use cryogenic liquid hydrogen and run it through an internal combustion engine in a dual fuel system.
The problem with this arrangement is that most of the other large automakers have been developing fuel cell vehicles that run on compressed hydrogen gas. Most of the fueling stations today deliver compressed hydrogen gas and not liquid hydrogen.
So, it wasn’t until March 2010, that BMW put out its first fuel cell vehicle, so at least it would be in the same game as the other fuel cell automakers. This arrangement with General Motors will help BMW catch up on fuel cell technology. The benefit to both partners will be splitting the high costs of developing fuel cell systems with the eye towards bringing down costs which they can pass along to consumers.
If both automakers are to have a hydrogen-powered fuel cell car rolling off the production lines by 2015 (as the 8 major carmakers have stated as their deadline) they both will need a little help. And this partnership may be just what is needed in order to be competitive in the hydrogen car marketplace a few years from now.