Home » BMW Group, Airbus and Quantinuum are collaborating on accelerated, sustainable mobility research using state-of-the-art quantum computers

BMW Group, Airbus and Quantinuum are collaborating on accelerated, sustainable mobility research using state-of-the-art quantum computers

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BMW Group, Airbus and Quantinuum are collaborating on accelerated, sustainable mobility research using state-of-the-art quantum computers

MUNICH, Germany, TOULESE, France and CAMBRIDGE, England, March 1, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Airbus, the BMW Group and Quantinuum, global leaders in mobility and quantum technologies, have developed a hybrid quantum/classical workflow to power future research using quantum computers to simulate quantum systems. The focus is on chemical reactions of catalysts in fuel cells.

In a new technical paper entitled “Applicability of Quantum Computing to Oxygen Reduction Simulations”, the three partners report that they have studied the oxygen reduction reaction(“ORR”) on the surface of a platinum-based catalyst. ORR is the chemical reaction in the process of converting hydrogen and oxygen into water and electricity in a fuel cell, which limits the efficiency of the process. It is relatively slow and requires a large volume of the platinum catalyst, which is why it is of great interest and value to better understand the underlying mechanisms of the reaction.

Using the Quantinuum H-series quantum computer, the collaboration team demonstrated the applicability of Quantinuum in an industrial workflow to improve our understanding of a critical chemical reaction. The three companies plan to further collaborate to explore the use of quantum computing to address relevant industrial challenges.

dr Peter Lehnert, Vice President, Research Technologies at BMW Group, said: “Circularity and sustainable mobility require us to look for new materials to create more efficient products and shape the premium user experience of the future. The ability to simulate material properties with the benefits of accelerating quantum computing hardware with the relevant chemical fidelity gives us exactly the right tools to innovate faster in this crucial domain.”

As a pioneer in the global automotive market, the BMW Group recognizes the transformative potential of quantum computing and its importance in the discovery of new materials, where it enables faster and more efficient processes while reducing the need for laboratory prototypes. Approaching and accurately simulating one of the most fundamental electrochemical processes using quantum computing marks a major step towards a sustainable energy transition, benefiting metal-air batteries and other products with improved efficiency.

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Isabell Gradert, Vice President, Central Research and Technology at Airbus, said: “We have a clear vision of the study’s benefits in our search for sustainable and hydrogen-powered alternatives, such as the ZEROe aircraft, which can be powered by fuel cell engines. The study confirms that quantum computing will mature at the scale we need for aviation.”

Airbus has identified hydrogen as a promising candidate for powering low-carbon aircraft, as it produces no CO2 when it flies when generated from renewable energy. The company previously announced plans to begin testing a hydrogen-powered fuel cell propulsion system onboard its demonstrator aircraft over the next few years ZERO to start. The company aims to be the world‘s first hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft and to enter the market by 2035.

Ilyas Khan, Quantinuum’s Chief Product Officer, said: “We have been looking forward to supporting the BMW Group and Airbus for some time. Both are market leaders in their fields, and both recognize that quantum computing will play a crucial role in driving the sustainable mobility of the future. In this groundbreaking work, we show how quantum computing can be integrated into the industrial workflows of two of the world‘s most technologically advanced companies to address materials science problems that are prime candidates for quantum computing advances.”

The research team hopes that understanding the ORR reaction will provide insights that will help identify alternative materials that can improve performance and reduce fuel cell production costs. Accurately modeling chemical reactions, such as the ORR, is a difficult task for classical computers due to the quantum properties of the chemical mechanisms involved, making such simulations a good candidate to reap a possible benefit from quantum computing in the future.

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Editorial notes:

Information about Quantum

Quantinuum is the world‘s largest standalone quantum computing company, formed by combining Honeywell Quantum Solutions’ world-leading hardware and Cambridge Quantum’s industry-leading middleware and applications. Science-driven and enterprise-focused, Quantinuum is accelerating quantum computing and application development in chemistry, cybersecurity, finance and optimization. The company’s focus is on developing scalable and commercial quantum solutions to solve the world‘s most pressing problems in areas such as energy, logistics, climate change and health. The company employs more than 480 people, including 350 scientists and engineers, at eight locations in the US, Europe and Japan. For more information, see 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 offers first-class financial and mobility services. The BMW Group’s production network includes more than 30 production sites worldwide. The company has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.

In 2022, the BMW Group sold almost 2.4 million passenger cars and more than 202,000 motorcycles worldwide. Earnings before taxes amounted to EUR 23.5 billion in the 2022 financial year, with sales of EUR 142.6 billion. As of December 31, 2022, the BMW Group employed 149,475 people.

The success of the BMW Group has always been based on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company paved the way for the future at an early stage and consistently places sustainability and efficient resource management at the center of its strategic orientation, starting with the supply chain, through production, to the end of the use phase of all products.

Information about Airbus

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Airbus is at the forefront of sustainable space travel for a safe and united world. The company is always innovating to offer the most efficient and technologically advanced solutions in the fields of aerospace, defense and connected services. In commercial aircraft, Airbus offers the most modern and fuel-efficient aircraft. Airbus is also a leading European defense and security company, as well as one of the world‘s leading space companies. Airbus also offers the most efficient civil and military helicopter solutions in the world.


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