In addition to announcing an investment of $782 million in new battery assembly lines at the Leipzig plant, BMW said that it is testing a burner that can run on both hydrogen and gas in the facility’s paint shop.
The burner can transition from hydrogen to gas or vice versa while in operation. It was created in collaboration with the combustion technology company Saacke to reduce carbon emissions in the production process.
To offset its carbon impact, the automaker currently purchases hydrogen produced using natural gas and certificates for green hydrogen produced by the same manufacturer using electrolyzers powered by renewable energy.
It intends to use an externally operated pipeline starting in 2024 to bring green hydrogen straight into the facility in the future.
The problem of how to run their paint operations without Russian gas has been a problem for automakers wanting to lessen their reliance on it.
According to plant director Petra Peterhaensel, all of the burners in the paint shop, which is among the most energy-intensive parts of the automobile manufacturing process, might be switched to hydrogen if the pilot burner passes the test and there is enough green hydrogen available.
Five on-site storage tanks and a fleet of trucks fueled by hydrogen are already in use by BMW for logistical transportation.
Despite being hailed as the key to decarbonizing industries dependent on coal, gas, and oil, green hydrogen has historically been much more expensive to produce than other forms of hydrogen – four times more expensive, according to BMW’s own supplier, who spoke to the local press in March.
But as natural gas costs rise, it becomes more and more unprofitable to create hydrogen using fossil fuels, which has sparked renewed interest in green hydrogen.
Additionally, on Thursday, BMW announced it would expand its Leipzig factory by adding a third battery assembly line, five cell varnishing lines, and two more high-voltage battery assembly lines by 2024.
The automaker also has factories in Dingolfing and Regensburg, Germany, Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Shenyang, China, where batteries are assembled.