BMW Group subsidiary Designworks and Shell have collaborated in the development of an innovative hydrogen dispenser that will improve the refuelling experience.
Hydrogen vehicles have proved to be increasingly suitable for everyday use and offer the potential to become an important low carbon transport option for the future. The new dispenser design will create a seamless experience for hydrogen drivers on the forecourt and help to encourage the adoption of hydrogen as a transport fuel of the future.
BMW Designworks was commissioned by Shell to develop the design of a new hydrogen dispenser. Designworks approached the project applying BMW’s innovative and holistic research and design process “Fixstern” (fixed star). This pioneering approach to innovation creates a future vision, a focal point that all stakeholders can share in common, align to, and drive towards.
“Next to enabling product innovation, one of the most important benefits of the Fixstern process, is its power to create commitment for a common goal by providing a tangible vision that multiple project partners can work towards”, says Sonja Schiefer, Director of the Munich studio of Designworks.
Hydrogen dispenser models currently on the market are based on those designed for conventional fuels. To inspire a world of clean energy, Designworks created Oasis, a dispenser concept that departs from the “H” or “L” shaped fuel dispensers presently on the market. It introduces a new product typology with an “I” shaped, pillar-like design with a friendly appeal. Oasis takes inspiration from natural forms and elegantly rises upwards creating a beacon both from close up and from a distance.
The Shell dispenser design is clean and remarkably simple with all mechanical parts made invisible. When approaching the dispenser, the user will experience a light guidance system, a generous information screen and an innovative nozzle for refuelling. The light concept helps guide the overall flow of cars on the forecourt by providing precise and clearly visible information about the dispenser´s occupancy and the remaining fueling time. A concise graphical communication concept was developed for the interaction screen on the front of the dispenser, to provide clear and easily accessible information. It allows users to keep track of their refuelling time and price, request maps to check route details or dive deeper into the world of hydrogen.
For the refuelling nozzle, the design team created a new pick up and mount mechanism, which provides a highly intuitive way of removing and returning the nozzle. To make the refueling experience even more comfortable, a screen was integrated directly into the nozzle guiding the user through the refueling process step by step. Beyond offering an innovative refuelling experience, the new dispenser concept, with its clean design language and easy to use functionality, makes a clear statement about the future of hydrogen.
BMW also showcased a 5-Series GT fuel cell prototype that has hydrogen coming from solar-powered electrolysis.
The fuel cell converts the hydrogen gas carried in its storage tank into electricity and water vapour, generating 180 kW/245 HP to drive the electric motor. With a net capacity of around one kilowatt hour, the vehicle’s high-voltage battery acts as a temporary storage mechanism and can therefore be considerably smaller than in battery-electric concepts. The strategic alliance agreed between the BMW Group and the Toyota Motor Company in 2013 provides additional impetus and increases the companies’ capacity to turn hydrogen fuel-cell technology into reality.
It is the aim of the BMW Group to establish hydrogen fuel-cell electric drive systems as a long-term second source of locally emission-free mobility alongside battery-electric drive systems. The result is a versatile potential portfolio of drive systems which can be adapted flexibly to different vehicle concepts, customer requirements and legislative circumstances.
The dispenser concept and 5-Series GT fuel cell prototype were introduced at Hannover Fair from 24 – 28 April 2017.