BMW’s Spartansburg, South Carolina plant is launching a program to convert methane gas into hydrogen. If successful, the manufacturing facility will be able to power its fleet of production vehicles with hydrogen fuel-cells. A longer battery life, continuous power, and a quick recharge are just some of the benefits of hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Locally-sourced methane gas already provides over 60% of the plant’s total energy requirements–an amount that BMW claims can account for a 92,000 tons per year reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, or the equivalent to planting over 23,000 acres of trees annually (that’s 30 times the size of New York’s Central Park). Transforming this not-so-precious resource into hydrogen is the next frontier in conservation and efficiency.
The hydrogen fuel cell initiative will be the second stage of BMW‘s landfill gas program, which recently saw the Spartanburg facility gain a $12 million dollar retrofit. The plant is now outfitted with larger co-generating turbines, heat recovery boilers, and a specialized treatment system to remove pollutants from methane gas. These upgrades have doubled the productivity and greatly increased the efficiency of the plant’s “Gas-to-Energy” infrastructure, which dates back to 2002.
BMW has reported $5 million in annual savings from its landfill gas program. Cost-efficient production of hydrogen gas from locally-sourced methane could provide even greater relief from rising energy costs while minimizing the overall environmental impact of the facility.
While the company isn’t sharing its trade secrets quite yet, BMW aims to design a training program so that other organizations may learn and benefit from its research.