Monday, November 16, 2009
With BMW's announcement that they're developing several models of hybrid vehicle to be introduced over the next few years a new market segment is starting to emerge - the luxury hybrid. Well known for innovation, quality, and style in the standard car market, BMW's entry into the hybrid market is sure to have a positive effect on the future of non-fossil fuel powered vehicles.
BMW 7 Series Hybrid
The first BMW hybrid model to be available will be in the popular 7 Series. Already in testing, this car will run on both Hydrogen and gasoline. The primary challenge of developing this kind of hybrid in comparison to the fuel cell technology that other manufacturers are using is in keeping the Hydrogen in liquid form so it's usable by the engine.
Because Hydrogen is only liquid at very low temperatures and the natural state of the engine compartment is very hot, keeping the hydrogen from getting too hot and evaporating is a significant challenge. Issues with transporting and storing Hydrogen at fuel stations is also an issue as is making the fuel available in enough locations to give motorists enough places to refuel to make owning the car practical.
In contrast to other car manufacturers who are concentrating on gas/electric hybrids with the eventual goal of producing all-electric vehicles, BMW's plan has nothing to do with electricity or the heavy and expensive batteries that storing and delivering electricity to a vehicle requires.
BMW already boasts a car that runs completely on water and, with their proven technology that produces Hydrogen from sunlight, they believe an entirely self-sustainable fuel system using solar cells to product Hydrogen that will then power the vehicle is viable within the next decade.
Into the Future
The driving force behind BMW's push for Hydrogen fueled vehicles are the benefits they believe Hydrogen has over alternate fuels like gasoline, electricity, or other solid fuels. Not does Hydrogen pose no environmental threat and produce no emissions it's also a completely renewable form of energy that uses no natural resources that aren't easily replenished.
BMW's plan to eventually produce a car that runs entirely on Hydrogen produced by boiling water with energy from the sun (through solar cells) is certainly an exciting notion. Only time will tell if they can pull it off but the incredible promise of what they're trying to do makes this writer hope that they do.