Photo courtesy of BMW

Photo courtesy of BMW

Hydrogen fueling stations using Linde technology have reached more than 1 million fills for the fuel-cell driven forklifts at the BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Since 2010, the 6 million square foot BMW production facility has powered its entire hydrogen-fuel cell fleet with Linde technology. BMW now operates more than 350 forklifts to service the plant's production and logistics functions.

The lead acid batteries that formerly powered BMW's lifts and trucks were replaced with GenDrive hydrogen fuel cell power solutions from Latham, N.Y.-based Plug Power Inc., Linde's associate in the BMW installation.

BMW is able to boost productivity in two ways: reducing fueling time and increasing equipment performance. Gen-Drive-powered trucks with hydrogen using Linde's equipment takes an operator less than three minutes, compared with 15-20 minutes to change out a battery. Also, power levels and performance from fuel cells do not degrade over time, as they do with lead-acid batteries. BMW also is able to reduce its total electricity demand, since no battery recharging is required, and eliminate the environmental disposal costs for lead-acid batteries.