Fuel Cell Motorsport - silent, energy-efficient and modular
By Mike Hanlon
August 18, 2006
August 19, 2006 We love big ideas and this one is a ripper – a young and dynamic Dutch-based company named Formula Zero is setting up a new fuel cell race car class to help generate public enthusiasm, demonstrate the viability, and accelerate the uptake of emission-free transport. Now here’s the really clever bit – the intention is to construct a complete portable travelling circus a-la-Formula-One, which can be set up on any flat surface, complete with racetrack, grandstands, hospitality, pits, clean technology power and hydrogen generation and timing facilities. The 600 metre track will include seating for 1500 spectators and the races will be held in conjunction with major motor shows, motor racing events, international political summits, industrial fairs and events such as the Paris Air Show, Goodwood, Festival of speed, and the Michelin Challenge Bibendum. Six races will be held during 2008–09 with university teams competing from across the world. The aim is to start with go-karts on the smaller track and scale-up to full size fuel cell race cars on full race circuits as technology allows over the next decade, all under the auspices of the FIA. Formula Zero is seeking sponsors, host event partners and University teams interested in fielding a car and we think this is a winner.
The Formula Zero kart class will bring together top corporate sponsors, high quality university teams, technology providers and organizers of esteemed international events.
Formula Zero will start in 2008–09 as a new race category with an annual competition for open single seater race cars that are powered by fuel cell technology. This is the only competition in the world dedicated to fuel cell vehicles and high-speed racing, contrasting to other low speed efficiency races. The first step of the Formula Zero Championship will be a class for fuel cell karts and as a proof of concept, Formula Zero, in conjunction with partners Shell Hydrogen, Ecofys and TNO Automotive, has developed the world’s first fuel cell race kart, the Mark 2. These karts will be developed and built by selected universities. The race category will then grow through several classes into a competition for full size zero emissions race cars. Formula Zero will become an open series, creating a level playing field for manufacturers to compete, and showcase their different innovative technologies.
The selected university-teams are to conceive, design, fabricate, and compete with small formula-style racing cars. The restrictions on the car and fuel cell are limited so that the knowledge, creativity, and imagination of the students are challenged.
Hydrogen karts can give young talent of today the opportunity to develop their technical skills for the technology of tomorrow. For this purpose a new competition
The FIA Alternative energies commission will act as the regulating body for the sports side of the championship, making it an international recognized race category. The technical regulations are co-developed with the FIA.
The race events are centred around the mobile racetrack and are planned to last from two to five days, with the duration tailored to complement the activities of the host event.
This mobile racetrack can be set up on any piece of flat tarmac that is ideally situated to attract large crowds of the desired target audience. The program will consists of training sessions, demonstrations with celebrities behind the wheel and an official competition for university teams.
One of the key features of the circus will be the demonstration of well-to-wheel-zero-emissions and there will be on-site renewable energy production with wind turbines to capture wind energy and solar panels to make electricity from the sun. This electricity will be converted into hydrogen with a mobile electrolysis unit thus creating the fuel to power the karts.
Mobile Race Track
The track itself will be 600 metres long and be fully compliant with FIA-CIK regulations, capable of seating 1500 people, of which 270 will have full VIP facilities, divided between the three main sponsors in three hospitality areas.
The track is designed to be set up on any flat surface, and although a tramc or concrete surface would be ideal, facility has been made for a dirt or gravel base to be covered with supa-track panels for the racetrack surface.
The fully transportable infrastructure for the race meetings will also include the barriers and other safety measures to protect the public, on-site energy production facilities with turbines and solar panels, on-site hydrogen generation and re-fuelling facilities and the full pit lane and pit box infrastructure for up to nine teams.