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Will hydrogen power be the future solution for F1? – Motorsports

On the one hand, there is a commitment to hybrids (internal combustion engines with additional battery power) related to the promotion of more sustainable fuels. This is an option taken by F1.

Then there was a lot of talk about using all electricity even further. But the fact that battery-powered technology can’t propel a 200mph racing car that can run on flat tires for two hours in connection with FE’s 25-year exclusive contract means it’s not a beginner so far. To do.

But there is a third option that is quietly bubbling in the background.

And while this technology is a bit premature for the next cycle of F1 engine rules from 2025, it’s definitely something that could be seriously considered within the next decade. That is the power of hydrogen.

This week, the announcement that Red Bull Advanced Technologies will help design the chassis concept for the hydrogen-fueled Le Mans sports car has rekindled interest in this topic and prompted some fresh thoughts on whether it is feasible in F1. It was.

Red Bull is working with French racing car constructor ORECA to create what is known as the H24 concept. It is intended to drive hydrogen class cars in the 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours.

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Successful ambitious plans open up a world of opportunities to build high-performance racing cars with zero carbon dioxide pollution. In fact, the only by-product from the car is water vapor.

The concept of the H24 car is serious. The car is the first incarnation and aims for about GT3 level performance.

It aims to achieve a maximum speed of 300km / h and produce 550kw (about 730hp) at 17,000rpm.

Acceleration from 0 to 100km / h takes about 3.4 seconds. This is compared to 2.3 seconds for F1 and 2.8 seconds for FE. However, keep in mind that H24 cars are much heavier.

The engine will be a direct drive. That is, there are no gear shifts, clutches or differentials.

In addition, the 8.6 kg fuel tank, which stores 700 bar of hydrogen, can be filled from the sky in 3 minutes. It is hoped that a full tank will be able to power the car for about 45 minutes.

In terms of performance, the first version is clearly not the performance level required by F1, but it will be the first step in improving technology to meet the needs of Grand Prix racing in the long run.

This not only increases the pace, but also means how far the car can run. The 3-minute pit stop to fill the tank is not very F1 …

Hydrogen still has a way to go at this point, but manufacturers are definitely interested in this concept.

Last year, CEO Orakarenius talked about the appeal of hydrogen engines while major automakers like Mercedes are currently working on electricity futures trading. Hydrogen engines are now better suited for larger commercial vehicles.

Total mission H24

Photo: Total

“This is one of the technologies we are working on for a CO2-neutral future and we have been working on it for 25 years,” he said.

“We go first in terms of deployment in roads, heavier trucks, and some bus applications, but ultimately it won’t work without the accompanying green hydrogen.”

The story of cleanly produced hydrogen is interesting. Because it is the specialty of INEOS, the co-owner of Mercedes.

Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of the chemical company, says hydrogen production was what his company was a market leader. So it could be a great route for F1.

“I don’t know how relevant it is to F1 in the long run, but looking at INEOS’s hydrogen economy, it’s probably the largest hydrogen producer in Europe,” he said.

“We are the leader in the technology of the future that produces hydrogen from water, which is an electrolysis process. It takes water molecules and divides them electrically. INEOS is bigger than anyone else in that game in Europe. is.”

Turning water into fuel to power a car is amazing for sustainable motorsport, as the only by-product is to increase water.

However, beyond idealism, there are actually major hurdles to overcome.

First of all, in order to have a realistic hope of getting a hybrid nod, technology needs to guarantee F1 level performance.

That way, even if hydrogen generators perform that way within the next decade, they will be costly.

One of the realities that F1 needs to tackle, and what’s wrong with current hybrid rules is that it focuses only on the technology itself, not on real-world considerations such as the money manufacturers need to be competitive. Was to guess.

This is a factor recently quoted by F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali in talking about potential future engine regulation and attracting manufacturers.

“I think Formula 1 has a great future that shows that there is no electrification in the automotive world,” he told Sky.

“Hybridization is a great path and I think it has a great future. Formula 1 uses it to ensure that OEMs invest and show that there is this way that is otherwise sustainable. is needed.

“It’s about paying great attention to costs and focusing the attention of teams and OEMs into the future. The mistakes made in the past were related to prioritizing technology only. There is none.”

So far, hydrogen is not F1’s answer. Instead, the plan for a hybrid that is powered by sustainable fuel is to check the boxes of teams, manufacturers, and sponsors.

But even before the next-generation F1 hybrid engine gets off to a good start at the start of the 2025 F1 season, the Le Mans 2024 gives a glimpse into what the long-term future of sport will look like.

GreenGTR MPH2G laps

GreenGTR MPH2G laps

Photo: ACO

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