In yet another sign that hydrogen is creeping into the consciousness of global automotive designers, sports car maker Aston Martin plans to run a hydrogen-fueled vehicle in a 24-hour Grand Touring (GT) race later this month.
Aston Martin’s Hydrogen Hybrid Rapide S will employ a 6.0-liter, V12 engine capable of burning hydrogen or gasoline in the ADAC Nürburgring GT race in Germany on May 17. It will reportedly be the first hydrogen-fueled entrant to race in such an event.
”Our goal was to compete with this engine in the ADAC 24 race in Nürburgring,” Matthew Clarke, spokesman for Aston Martin, told Design News. “”We’ll use a combination of gasoline and hydrogen, and we’ll leave it to the driver to judge the racing conditions and decide which to use.”
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Aston Martin’s Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S features a twin-turbocharged V12 engine that burns hydrogen or gasoline. It will run in the 24-hour ADAC Nürburgring race in Germany on May 17. (Source: Aston Martin)
Aston Martin’s use of hydrogen in such a high-profile venue is a first for the racing community, and it serves as a sign that automakers are acutely aware of the need to look at the long-term possibilities of hydrogen. Earlier this month, Toyota announced that it plans to sell a hydrogen-powered vehicle for between $50,000 and $100,000 in 2015.
Aston Martin’s Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S will employ the company’s new AM11 V12 engine. It will, however, enhance the naturally aspirated V12 with twin turbochargers as a means of reducing the engine’s compression ratio from 11:1 to 9.5:1, to accommodate hydrogen.
Working with engineers from Alset Global, Aston Martin also optimized the software in the engine’s electronic control unit (ECU), enabling the vehicle to switch back and forth between the two fuels. The ECU enables the driver to burn gasoline, hydrogen, or a blend of the two fuels. The V12, which offers approximately 550 HP when burning gasoline, is likely to hit a similar number with hydrogen.
In the Nürburgring race, Aston Martin will employ four hydrogen fuel tanks -- two in the trunk and two more where the passenger seat would otherwise reside. Pressure for the tanks will be maintained at 350 bar. A fifth tank will store gasoline.
Aston Martin plans to use hydrogen at Nürburgring because a racing venue provides a meaningful test for the fuel and the engine. "Hydrogen has great potential as a fuel source, and we think it deserves further investigation,” Clarke told us. “Unless people test it in the public arena, then the debate about hydrogen won’t happen. To encourage that debate is a healthy thing.”
Chuck, Thanks for keeping us up-to-date, along with post earlier this week, on developments with hydrogen in automotive. No question that advanced research is an important aspect of this industry and its future. Hope that continues.
Thanks Charles for keeping us update regarding the new technology . No doubt race track is the best place for the comparision between hydrogen sports car and hybrid cars but no conclusion can be drawn untill and unless the event takes place . However i have to admit that hydrogen cars are enviornmental friendly because they dont emit carbon dioxide .I am eagerly waiting for the conculsion after the race takes place .
I second Al's comment. This is quite cool innovation to check out. It's amazing that hydrogen is powerful enough to fuel a race car. I'll keep an eye on your posts for future hydrogen developments. After so many years of hearing about the potential for hydrogen, it seems really cool to see it actually happening now.
Elizabeth, hydrogen was used to launch the space shuttle. So it has the potential for powerful racing. What would worry me on the race track is a potential for an accident. As you recall the space shuttle had a little fuel leak and that did not end very well.
Chuck, the problems with hydrogen in the past is the same as the problems with hydrogen now. The biggest problem is fueling. I was working on a project and the construction management company had something going with one of the oil majors. One of the projects was a hydrogen fueling station. It was complex and very expensive. It will always be more expensive than a gasoline station. This is just physics.
If you go to Epcot center and go through the GM ehibit you will see hydrogen car mock-ups. These used the hydrogen for fuel cells.
While this is an interesting development as far as the racing using hysdrogen goes, the problem still remains the same. How do you fuel these things. A dual fuel capability is very good, and could perhaps lead to something useful.
You're unquestionably right, Louis. Big automakers do these things as a means of dipping a toe in the water -- seeing what other problems might be lurking out there that they didn't expect. When I started writing about these topics in '88, everybody -- GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda -- was doing battery-electric cars. They tried, they went their period of disillusionment, they came back and tried again. I suspect the same will happen with hydrogen. It will come and go for another couple of decades, depending on how much automakers are able to sink into these projects, knowing they won't get a payback for a long, long time.
I'd be curious NaperLou what the true end cost of a hydrogen station comes to these days. The last time I heard a figure was about $15mill in the late 90's and that was for basically a two pump kiosk type setup. Until that comes down you will never see hydrogen in use much outside of large population centers. Hydrogen is a very goo fuel but far from perfect. Production, fuel cost and storage are the three bigg elephants in the room. One proponent of hydrogen was claiming the energy equivilent of a gallon of gasoline was rather higher. He was comparing $3.50 a gallon gas with hydrogen that was running about $25 per. The majority of it is derived from pertroleum currently so thts not very surprising.
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