31 March 2010
Formula Hydrogen speeding to a world record
The Formula H car at the speed trial in Germany.
The team behind the pioneering hydrogen-powered racing car.
- Czech flag for green, fast cars 11/07/2011
The RMIT University team behind Australia's first hydrogen racing car is celebrating another milestone, with the clean and green racer reaching a world record speed for its class in trials held in Germany.
The car, which is powered by a two-cylinder internal combustion motorcycle engine converted to run on hydrogen, reached 133kmh during speed trials held recently at a military airport in Ingolstadt.
But the team behind the pioneering project is aiming to beat its own record by pushing the racer beyond 150kmh in further speed trials planned for June.
Professor Aleksandar Subic, Head of the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, said researchers were compiling the initial speed trial results – independently verified by members of the German military – for an official submission to the Guinness World Records.
"The speed trial was held on a bitterly cold day, in minus 7 degree temperatures, which isn't ideal as the cold affects both the hydrogen fuel and the aerodynamics, due to the density of air and drag," Professor Subic said.
"But despite the difficult conditions, the racer still managed to twice reach a top speed of 133kmh to set a new record for a hydrogen-powered car of its class.
"This is an incredible achievement for a compact and fully sustainable racing car that emits nothing but water vapour, but we know it can go even faster and the upcoming speed trials will be our chance to push the racer to its limits."
A collaboration between RMIT and Germany's Fachhochschule Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences, the Formula Hydrogen project was designed to produce a demonstration vehicle using cutting-edge sustainable automotive technologies.
The racing car has been showcased at several European automotive industry expos over the past year, including the Plus Audi Innovation Forum in Ingolstadt and the IAA international motor show at Frankfurt.
"There was great enthusiasm and interest from industry and from motoring enthusiasts, with thousands of people visiting our stands at the expos," Professor Subic said.
"The most common query was from people wanting to know how they could put in an order – they were so excited by seeing the Formula H car, they wanted one of their own."
The Australian and German teams are now working with Audi on Formula H Mk 2, in which two Audi TTs will be converted to run on hydrogen, using the internal combustion redesign concept developed for the original project.
The research teams will continue to collaborate, working concurrently on the vehicles, with one based in Ingolstadt and the other in Melbourne.
"RMIT will be focusing on developing a novel hydrogen fuel cell system to power all the vehicle's auxiliary systems and to reduce the level of pressure required for hydrogen storage," Professor Subic said.
"By using existing technology and adapting it, we don't turn out back on the decades of refinement that have gone into internal combustion engines.
"It's fantastic to have Audi on board, supporting our research and development in this promising field."
The modified Audi sports coupes will be used in commercial races against conventional, petrol-powered vehicles.
Unlike conventional racers, the car emits only water vapour.
The racing car was a highlight at several European industry expos.