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Airbus, BMW, Quantinuum Research Sustainable Energy

Global mobility and quantum technology giants Airbus, BMW Group, and Quantinuum have pioneered a groundbreaking hybrid quantum-classical workflow. This innovative framework expedites future research by utilizing quantum computers to simulate quantum systems, specifically emphasizing the chemical reactions of catalysts within fuel cells. 

A recent technical paper titled “Applicability of Quantum Computing to Oxygen Reduction Reaction Simulations” sheds light on the collaboration’s achievements. The paper on arXiv highlights the trio’s success in accurately modeling the oxygen reduction reaction (“ORR”) on a platinum-based catalyst’s surface. The ORR is a key chemical reaction that transforms hydrogen and oxygen into water and electricity within a fuel cell. It significantly determines the process’s efficiency. Given its relatively slow speed and high platinum catalyst requirement, there is substantial interest and value in properly understanding how this reaction happens. 

Illustration of concept of Oxygen reduction reaction simulations.

By leveraging Quantinuum’s H-Series quantum computer, the collaboration has showcased the potential of quantum computing in enhancing industrial workflows and understanding complex chemical reactions. The three industry leaders plan to further their collaboration, exploring the potential of quantum computing in addressing industrial challenges.

Dr. Peter Lehnert, Vice-President of Research Technologies at BMW Group, articulated: “The pursuit of circularity and sustainable mobility propels us towards the exploration of new materials, enabling the creation of efficient products that will define the premium user experience of the future. The escalating capabilities of quantum computing hardware, allowing simulation of material properties with unparalleled chemical accuracy, equip us with the precise tools required to accelerate innovation in this pivotal domain.” 

As a trailblazer in the global automotive arena, the BMW Group acknowledges the transformative potential of quantum computing. This technology holds significant promise in the realm of new materials research, where it can expedite processes, optimize efficiency, and minimize the need for lab prototypes. The utilization of quantum computing to simulate one of the most critical electrochemical processes marks a significant advancement toward a sustainable energy transition. This development could benefit metal-air batteries and other products, enhancing their efficiency. 

Isabell Gradert, Vice-President Central Research & Technology at Airbus, noted: “The advantages of this study are readily apparent in our pursuit of sustainable, hydrogen-powered alternatives, such as the ZEROe aircraft, which may operate on fuel cell engines. The study affirms that quantum computing is evolving at a pace suitable for the aviation industry.” 

Airbus has earmarked hydrogen as a promising energy source for low-carbon aircraft, given its zero CO2  emissions during flight when derived from renewable energy. The company has previously unveiled plans to test a hydrogen-powered fuel cell propulsion system onboard its ZERO e-demonstrator aircraft in the upcoming years. Airbus aspires to pioneer the development of the world’s first hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft, anticipating market entry by 2035.”

Ilyas Khan, Chief Product Officer at Quantinuum, commented: “It has been a thrill to collaborate with BMW Group and Airbus, both industry leaders who acknowledge the potential of quantum computing in promoting future sustainable mobility. In this groundbreaking work, we demonstrate the integration of quantum computing into the industrial workflows of two of the world’s most technologically advanced companies, addressing material science challenges that are ripe for progress through quantum computing.” 

About Quantinuum

Quantinuum, the world’s most extensive independent quantum computing entity, was born from the integration of Honeywell Quantum Solutions’ top-notch hardware and Cambridge Quantum’s superior middleware and applications. As a science-oriented and enterprise-driven organization, Quantinuum propels the advancement of quantum computing and the creation of applications in diverse sectors such as chemistry, cybersecurity, finance, and optimization. The company’s primary aim is to develop scalable, commercial quantum solutions to tackle some of the world’s most critical challenges in areas like energy, logistics, climate change, and health. Quantinuum has a robust team of over 480 professionals, including more than 350 scientists and engineers, spread across eight locations in the United States, Europe, and Japan. For further information, please visit https://www.quantinuum.com. Please note that the Honeywell trademark is being utilized under a license from Honeywell International Inc., which does not make any representations or warranties related to this service.   

The BMW Group 

The BMW Group, with its four distinguished brands – BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce, and BMW Motorrad- stands as the global leader in producing premium automobiles and motorcycles and offers top-of-the-line financial and mobility services. The BMW Group’s production network extends over more than 30 manufacturing sites worldwide, with a comprehensive sales network operational in over 140 countries. 

In the fiscal year 2022, the BMW Group reported nearly 2.4 million passenger vehicle sales and over 202,000 motorcycle sales globally. The company recorded a pre-tax profit of € 23.5 billion on revenues, reaching € 142.6 billion. As of 31 December 2022, the BMW Group’s workforce comprised 149,475 dedicated employees. 

The BMW Group’s success is deeply rooted in its commitment to long-term planning and responsible behavior. The company has proactively set the trajectory for its future, making sustainability and efficient resource management integral to its strategic direction, extending from the supply chain, through production, to the end-use phase of all its products.

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