BMW’s massive manufacturing plant in Regensburg, Germany, boasts a large inventory of powerful motors—ready to be assembled annually into 250,000 of the world’s most desirable and roadworthy cars. But recently, several much bigger General Electric (GE) engines arrived on the premises.
Manufactured in the small Austrian town of Jenbach by the Gas Engine Division of GE Power & Water, the Jenbacher combined heat and power (CHP) engines generate 10.7 megawatts (MW) and are fuel-flexible—meaning that they can run on either natural gas or biogas, which can be sourced from a wide variety of materials, from tree bark, to brewery waste, to discarded school lunches.
The automaker will use the new, omnivorous engines to generate enough heat and electricity for the plant to cover one-third of the factory’s needs. The massive 16-cylinder CHP engines, which are part of GE’s Ecomagination portfolio, operate at a respectable 85 percent efficiency. They convert some 45 percent of the heat energy from burning gas into electricity, and the technology captures a further 40 percent of the heat to help keep the plant warm. In the event of a blackout or service disruption to the national grid, the engines will generate enough power to operate the factory’s emergency lights... Read More