BMW has unveiled a new internal combustion engine design that not only produces near zero emissions, but it apparently absorbs and burns ambient air pollutants as well. The ultra-clean engine debuts in the new mono-fuel Hydrogen 7 saloon and is on display at this week’s SAE World Congress meeting in Detroit.

Based on the original V12-powered BMW Hydrogen 7 bi-fuel version (petrol and hydrogen), the new mono-fuel vehicle's internal combustion engine is optimized to run solely on hydrogen and is said to deliver the same performance, comfort, and safety as a regular production BMW 7 Series plus better mileage than its predecessor.

Since the consumed hydrogen has no carbon, the engine itself would produce no CO2, hydrocarbons, or other pollutants. However, BMW claims the existing pollutants in the surrounding air are consumed by the engine as well as small amounts of lubricating oil. After the burn process there are virtually zero exhaust emissions. In fact, according to BMW’s own testing the exhaust coming out of the tailpipe was actually cleaner than the ambient air going in.

In initial testing, the Hydrogen 7's engine actually shows emissions levels that, for certain components, such as Non Methane Organic Gases (NMOG's) and Carbon Monoxides (CO's), are cleaner than the ambient air that comes into the car's engine.

BMW has been developing hydrogen technology more than 25 years and claims it’s the most logical energy carrier of the future for three key reasons. First, it has no carbon and therefore hydrogen combustion generates no CO2, hydrocarbons and other pollutants. Second, it can be produced using renewable, clean technologies like solar, wind, geothermal, and bio-processes. And lastly, it can be produced in stable areas of the globe as necessary for energy security.

The Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel is a demonstration production vehicle, not a prototype, and was created to showcase the clean energy potential and feasibility of a hydrogen internal combustion engine.