Fuel flexible burner for automotive paint dryer

In a pilot project, a fuel-flexible burner for a paint dryer was put into operation in the paint shop of an automotive plant. In addition to natural gas, green hydrogen can thus also be used as a fuel.

The first fuel-flexible burner for a paint dryer was recently put into operation at the BMW plant in Leipzig. What makes it special is that the burner can burn hydrogen (H2) and the natural gas methane (CH4) both on their own and in a mixture. The changeover of fuels can take place during operation. The dual burner will initially be used in pilot operation. The innovative fuel-flexible burner system was developed in cooperation with the Bremen-based company Saacke, and the Fraunhofer Institute IFF in Magdeburg is providing support in integrating the safety concept. The plant is thus testing the feasibility of reducing the CO2-intensive use of natural gas, a fossil fuel. BMW Board Member for Production Milan Nedeljković says, "This technological breakthrough underscores our innovative strength and our will to continuously improve the sustainability of our production."

Sustainability as an important element of the BMW iFactory

According to the company, reducing CO2 emissions is a central claim of the so-called "BMW iFactory". In addition to the "Green" focus, which stands for sustainability, resource optimization and circularity, it also includes the "Lean" and "Digital" focuses. Lean stands for efficient, precise and highly flexible production, while Digital describes the effective use of digitalization in the areas of data science, artificial intelligence and virtualization. In the area of sustainability, the BMW Group is working on site-specific solutions to reduce CO2 emissions. Depending on suitability and location, geothermal energy, photovoltaic systems, or hydrogen, for example, may be considered. A prerequisite for the continuous use of hydrogen is the sufficient availability of green hydrogen via pipelines. The Leipzig plant has the opportunity to use a hydrogen network being developed in the region for this purpose.

Use of hydrogen in plant and transport logistics

Hydrogen has already been used as an energy carrier in plant logistics for years. Germany's first indoor hydrogen filling station was built on the Leipzig plant site in 2013. Forklifts and tugger trains for intralogistics can be refueled there. Almost ten years later, the Leipzig plant has the largest fleet in Germany with over 130 fuel cell-powered industrial trucks. Five intralogistics hydrogen refueling stations are located on the plant site, and the most recent has just gone into operation, enabling fully automated refueling operations for the first time. In logistics beyond the plant gates, the BMW Group is also testing the use of hydrogen to decarbonize transport logistics together with partners and is involved in the H2HAUL and HyCET research projects. Hydrogen is a promising energy carrier in transport logistics due to short refueling times, high payload and operational flexibility as well as attractive ranges. The use of green hydrogen, which is produced on the basis of renewable energies, thus creates the prerequisites for CO2-reduced long-distance logistics in the future.

BMW Leipzig plant focused on sustainability from the outset

"Sustainability is in the genes of the Leipzig plant, so to speak. Right from the planning stage of the plant, we attached great importance to efficient and sustainable processes. One result visible to all is the four wind turbines that supply the plant with electrical energy," says Plant Manager Petra Peterhänsel. Another milestone, in addition to the wind turbines built in 2013 with a capacity of 10 MW (production of approx. 26 GWh/year), was the opening of the battery storage farm in 2017, where up to 700 high-voltage batteries from BMW i3s are put to their second use. The facility can temporarily store electricity, including from the wind turbines, on the plant premises, thus optimizing local energy management or helping to stabilize the power grid. (OM-12/22)


Leipzig Plant
BMW Allee 1
04349 Leipzig (Germany)

About BMW

With its brands BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad, the BMW Group is the world's leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles and a provider of premium financial and mobility services. The BMW Group production network comprises more than 30 production sites worldwide; the company has a global sales network with representatives in over 140 countries.