Business Impact

BMW: Engine for Hydrogen

The company has a low-polluting, 260-horsepower prototype.

If hydrogen fails as a transportation fuel, nobody can blame BMW, which has built prototype hydrogen-gasoline ­internal-­combustion engines for years and is now touting a version (at left) that’s undergone rigorous product development. BMW plans to give 100 luxury hydrogen cars next year to politicians, celebrities, and other people who can promote hydrogen. The engine can generate 260 horsepower, something a full-size electric car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell cannot now do, says Thomas Korn, senior project engineer for BMW’s hydrogen program in Oxnard, CA. Although hydrogen combustion leads to the formation of nitrogen oxides, BMW’s new car has sophisticated control systems that minimize those pollutants by optimizing hydrogen concentrations and engine timing. But will it ever make it to the mass market? It’s a long shot, says John Heywood, director of the Sloan Automotive Laboratory at MIT. Despite the need for cleaner cars, he says, “a feeling is growing that, really, hydrogen isn’t a particularly convenient way of doing all of this.”

BMW’s new hydrogen-gasoline internal-combustion engine . (Courtesy of BMW).

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Business Impact

How technology advances are changing the economy and providing new opportunities in many industries.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Premium.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

You've read of free articles this month.