Quantum Computing Advancement: Airbus, BMW, and Quantinuum Tackle Fuel Cell Efficiency

Quantum Computing Advancement: Airbus, BMW, and Quantinuum Tackle Fuel Cell Efficiency

(IN BRIEF) Airbus, BMW Group, and Quantinuum, leaders in mobility and quantum technologies, have collaborated to develop a hybrid quantum-classical workflow. Their focus is on using quantum computers to simulate quantum systems and study the chemical reactions of catalysts in fuel cells, specifically the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). Their recently shared technical paper demonstrates the successful modeling of ORR using Quantinuum’s H-Series quantum computer. The research aims to gain insights into the reaction, identify alternative materials, and improve the efficiency and production costs of fuel cells. The collaboration showcases the potential of quantum computing in industrial workflows and its importance in advancing sustainable energy initiatives, such as hydrogen-powered aircraft by Airbus and enhanced materials research by BMW Group.

(PRESS RELEASE) MUNICH/ TOULOUSE/ CAMBRIDGE, 10-Jul-2023 — /EuropaWire/ — Airbus (EPA: AIR), a European multinational aerospace corporation, BMW Group, and Quantinuum, global leaders in mobility and quantum technologies, have jointly developed a groundbreaking hybrid quantum-classical workflow aimed at accelerating quantum computing research for simulating quantum systems. The focus of their collaboration is on investigating the chemical reactions of catalysts in fuel cells, with specific attention to the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR).

In their recently published technical paper titled “Applicability of Quantum Computing to Oxygen Reduction Reaction Simulations,” shared on arXiv, the three partners present their successful modeling of the ORR on the surface of a platinum-based catalyst. This chemical reaction is pivotal in converting hydrogen and oxygen into water and electricity within fuel cells, but its relatively slow nature and the requirement of a large amount of platinum catalyst necessitate better understanding its underlying mechanisms.

Leveraging Quantinuum’s H-Series quantum computer, the collaborative team has demonstrated the potential of quantum computing within an industrial workflow to advance our comprehension of this critical chemical reaction. As a result, the three companies have plans for further collaboration to explore quantum computing’s applicability in addressing industrial challenges.

Dr. Peter Lehnert, Vice-President, Research Technologies at BMW Group stated: “Circularity and sustainable mobility are putting us on a quest for new materials, to create more efficient products and shape the future premium user experience. Being able to simulate material properties to relevant chemical accuracy with the benefits from the accelerating quantum computing hardware is giving us just the right tools for more speed in innovation for this decisive domain.”

BMW Group, a pioneering force in the global automotive market, recognizes the transformative power of quantum computing in materials research, enabling faster and more efficient processes while reducing the reliance on lab prototypes. Their successful simulation of the ORR through quantum computing signifies a significant step towards achieving a sustainable energy transition and enhancing products like metal-air batteries with increased efficiency.

Isabell Gradert, Vice-President, Central Research & Technology at Airbus said: “We can clearly envision the benefits of the study in our quest for sustainable and hydrogen powered alternatives such as the ZEROe aircraft, which may operate on fuel cell engines. The study confirms that quantum computing is maturing at the scale we need for aviation.”

Similarly, Airbus has identified hydrogen as a promising eco-friendly energy source for low-carbon aircraft, owing to its zero CO2 emissions when generated from renewable sources. With plans to test a hydrogen-powered fuel cell propulsion system on its ZEROe demonstrator aircraft in the near future, Airbus aims to develop the world’s first hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft for market entry by 2035.

Ilyas Khan, Chief Product Officer, Quantinuum said: “We have been excited to be working for some time now to support the BMW Group and Airbus, both leaders in their fields, and both of whom recognize that quantum computing could play a pivotal role in advancing future sustainable mobility. In this pioneering work, we demonstrate how to integrate quantum computing into the industrial workflows of two of the world’s most technologically advanced companies, tackling material science problems that are a prime target for progress using quantum computing.”

The research team’s ultimate goal is to gain insights into the ORR reaction that can lead to identifying alternative materials to enhance fuel cell performance and reduce production costs. Accurately modeling such chemical reactions using classical computers is an immensely challenging task due to the involved quantum properties, making these simulations an ideal candidate to leverage potential quantum advantages in the future.

About Quantinuum

Quantinuum is the world’s largest standalone quantum computing company, formed by the combination of Honeywell Quantum Solutions’ world-leading hardware and Cambridge Quantum’s class-leading middleware and applications. Science-led and enterprise-driven, Quantinuum accelerates quantum computing and the development of applications across chemistry, cybersecurity, finance and optimization. Its focus is to create scalable and commercial quantum solutions to solve the world’s most pressing problems in fields such as energy, logistics, climate change, and health. The company employs over 480 individuals, including 350+ scientists and engineers, at eight sites across the United States, Europe, and Japan. For more information, please visit https://www.quantinuum.com. The Honeywell trademark is used under license from Honeywell International Inc. Honeywell makes no representations or warranties with respect to this service.

The BMW Group

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

In 2022, the BMW Group sold nearly 2.4 million passenger vehicles and more than 202,000 motorcycles worldwide. The profit before tax in the financial year 2022 was € 23.5 billion on revenues amounting to € 142.6 billion. As of 31 December 2022, the BMW Group had a workforce of 149,475 employees.

The success of the BMW Group has always been based on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company set the course for the future at an early stage and consistently makes sustainability and efficient resource management central to its strategic direction, from the supply chain through production to the end of the use phase of all products.

Media contact:

Elsa Gobet
External Communications – Airbus
Phone: +33 6 72 96 33 43

Philippe Gmerek
External Communications – Airbus
Phone: +33 6 13 19 37 27



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