Racing improves the breed and creates excitement, that's the idea behind Formula Zero, an organization based in the Netherlands with the ambitious goal of establishing a hydrogen fuel cell racing series. Beginning with fuel cell powered racing karts, they have just begun racing at the student edition level where teams from top universities compete. The initial race in Rotterdam on August 23rd, 2008, was won by Greenchoice-Forze race team from the Technical University of Delft.
The next phase, planned for 2011, will be larger cars competing in their street or city edition where races will be held on street circuits in cities around the world. The final phase, planned for 2015, will be the circuit edition where major manufacturers will compete on regular race tracks.
Formula Zero, a play on Formula One, gets it's name from the zero emission nature of fuel cells, only water comes out of the tailpipe. The student edition racing currently under way uses the Hydrogenics HyPM8 fuel cell so all teams can begin on a level playing field.
Hydrogen is stored onboard in a 5 liter aluminum tank. The kart also uses Boostcap® ultra-capacitors, which have 50kW of power for 6 seconds, and are used to store excess energy produced by the fuel cell and during braking. This energy is available for acceleration out of the corners or when passing.
Fuel Cell Power (Hydrogenics HyPM7) 8.2 kW
Boostcap® power (8 sec) 40 kW
Total electric power 46 kW (66 hp)
Kart weight (excl. driver) 285 kg
Top Speed 110 km/h (68 mph)
Race time on 5l hydrogen tank at 200 bar 12 mins
I like the idea of a race series, it's a great way to get more people interested in and excited about hydrogen fuel cells and at least thinking about high performance from something other than the internal combustion engine. These karts are only a first step but scaling up to full size cars certainly seems within reason, though there is obviously a lot of work still to do. Very cool.
Link: Formula Zero