BMW has reportedly confirmed its plans to launch a hydrogen-powered model around 2020, but the carmaker is working on improvements to the technology first.
Working with tech partner Toyota, BMW is exploring ways to ‘compress’ the hydrogen fuel required to run a fuel-cell vehicle in order to improve range.
As with electric vehicles, the available distance can be limited in some hydrogen models and the next refill or battery recharge comes about far too soon for some to consider making the switch from internal-combustion engines.
Those potential customers believe hydrogen or battery technology won’t be ‘ready’ until it can match the best that the market has to offer today.
One way to increase the range is to squeeze more fuel into the tank without making the tank larger, and BMW thinks a method of compressing the hydrogen is the answer.
Using a cooling technique to ensure the hydrogen is as contracted as possible is one of the methods under investigation, as ‘thinner’ fuel means more can be crammed into the tank with each fill.
It’s as simple as putting the hydrogen ‘in the fridge’, basically, but BMW and Toyota are keen to ensure the effectiveness of any trialled cooling techniques while ensuring safety is maintained during the refuelling process.
As for the car that this compressed hydrogen will one-day fuel, BMW has given us a few clues about its first-ever road-going hydrogen model.
"It will be sometime after 2020," BMW’s Merten Jung said, speaking with Reuters.
"We don't have a model yet, but... as the character of our technology favours larger cars, our model will probably be something like a long distance car, a larger sedan."
BMW has already dabbled in the field of fuel-cells with its 5 Series Gran Turismo and i8-based hydrogen prototypes revealed earlier this year.
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