BMW & Delphi Develop SOFC APU


Published: 16-Feb-2001

MUNICH, Germany, Feb. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The first development vehicle to be equipped with a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) was unveiled in Munich today by BMW and Delphi Automotive Systems (NYSE: DPH). After nearly two years of the companies working closely together on the groundbreaking program, the vehicle has operated and shown encouraging results.

"Both BMW and Delphi have considerable expertise in providing high- technology solutions to meet environmental issues," said Jose Maria Alapont, president of Delphi Europe-Africa-Middle East and a vice president of Delphi Automotive Systems Corporation. "There are many synergies between our companies that allow us to efficiently work together to develop outstanding new technologies."

The development vehicle uses the SOFC as the key component in an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), which could generate electrical energy for a wide range of potential vehicle systems and allows for the addition of further electrical features. The SOFC / APU provides sufficient energy for existing mechanically-driven sub-systems, such as the airconditioning and water pumps, to be driven electrically. This allows for more efficient operation and provides a much higher level of control.

Explaining his company's strategy, Dr. Burkhard Goeschel, BMW board member responsible for development, said: "Generator outputs have had to go up by about 30 percent and battery capacities by about 200 percent in the last 30 years. If we reflect that before long our cars will have electric water pumps, electric power steering and electrically actuated brakes as well as the whole range of modern communication equipment, then we must expect current consumption at least to double again in coming years."

Using a conventional, mechanically driven generator, supplying 1kW of electricity requires around 1.5 litres of fuel per hundred kilometres. Using the first production SOFC / APU will cause a reduction of 46 percent, leading to substantial fuel economy and environmental benefits. Delphi is working with BMW to bring the system to market in a passenger car.

Another important use of the APU will be to provide more power than can be reasonably supplied by a battery when the vehicle's engine is switched off. This may be to heat or cool the cabin while the driver is still eating breakfast when stuck in traffic. In commercial vehicles, an APU could be used to run refrigeration units or airconditioning while the vehicle is parked overnight or stopped for deliveries. Delphi is developing reformers that can convert either diesel or gasoline into hydrogen to fuel the APU.

"This is a major breakthrough technology to help protect our environment," concludes Jose Maria Alapont. "Delphi has a complete portfolio of environmentally-friendly vehicle systems including both gasoline and diesel Engine Management Systems, 42-Volt system architectures, fluid-free electric steering, electric braking systems and recyclable interior products."

For more information about Delphi Automotive Systems, visit Delphi's Virtual Press Room at .

SOURCE Delphi Automotive Systems Corporation

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