Hydrogen-powered race car takes on petrol-powered competitors


July 16, 2012

The hydrogen-powered Forze V race car recently competed against gas-powered cars, at the Formula Student race in the UK

The hydrogen-powered Forze V race car recently competed against gas-powered cars, at the Formula Student race in the UK

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For the past 14 years, teams of engineering students from around the world have pitted their custom-built race cars against one another, at the Formula Student competition in the UK. This year’s event, which took place once again at the Silverstone Racing Circuit, saw a milestone in the event’s history – it was the first time that a hydrogen-powered car raced against petrol-burning competitors. The car was the Forze V, from The Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology, and it actually did pretty well ... out of a total of over 100 vehicles, it ended up tied for 29th place last Saturday.

The 280-kg (617-lb) Forze V is the latest version of the Forze to be built by Delft over the past several years. While previous models have competed in races designated specifically for alternative-fueled vehicles, this was the first time it has taken on gas-guzzlers – some of its competitors were also battery-powered. The car was entered for last year’s event, but technical problems kept it from competing.

Two motors power the Forze V, both of them receiving electrical current from a hydrogen/oxygen reaction in the vehicle’s fuel cell. Under standard driving conditions, that cell kicks out 18 kW or 24 HP of continuous power. Like many other electric vehicles, however, it also uses a regenerative system to harvest and store the energy that would normally be lost when braking. This addition gives it a temporary power boost up to 60kW or 80 HP.

Even without that boost, the car still manages a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph), and a 0 to 96 km/h (60 mph) acceleration time of less than five seconds.

One 600-gram (1.3-lb) tank of gaseous hydrogen will keep it racing at full speed for about one hour. The only exhaust emitted by the car within that time is about three liters (3.17 US liquid quarts) of water.

Forze, by the way, stands for Formula Zero Team Delft.

Source: Forze-Delft via Inhabitat

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Not counting CO2 which is not a pollutant, how much pollution was emitted when the hydrogen was generated and compressed?


Not much because Scandinavian countries use / intend to use nuclear plants as electricity sources for catalysis and as such have close to zero carbon footprint.


see this tiny electric car folds up for easy parking

Anunay Reddy

re; xstos In that case I would pay the penalty to go from water and air to methane or even a liquid hydrocarbon so the fuel can be used in the existing infrastructure.


Ignore the nay-sayers and hack-engineers, (until they build their own, better entry!) This vehicle represents an important milestone on the road to yet another incremental puzzle-piece to solve the dino-fuel dilemma. While the power-to-weight ratio produces some competitive numbers, scale-ability will be the key to practical applications, where a 2500 lb car can produce and maintain enough power to navigate traffic safely. All innovation springs from observation and dedication though, so I'm glad this team had the vision.

Brian Sharpe
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