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Aston Martin To Race With Hydrogen

Aston Martin To Race With Hydrogen

Using the highly desirable Rapide as a donor car Aston Martin have developed the Hybrid-Hydrogen Rapide S, the first hydrogen powered race car to compete in a major sporting event. It is also the first zero emissions car to complete an entire race-pace lap of the Nürburgring emitting only water from the exhaust. The company will be racing the car in the twenty four hour event at the legendary circuit at the end of May.

The power comes from a prototype bi-turbo 6.0L V12 that can run on gasoline, gaseous hydrogen or a combination of both. Apparently the system installed is comprised of a hydrogen fuel rail, storage tanks and an engine management system. Although this might all be Greek to the average layman, this hybrid/hydrogen kit allows some flexibility of control over combustion depending on the driving circumstances: for example, pure hydrogen, pure petrol or a combination of both can be selected to provide maximum performance. The result is a racing car with the carbon footprint of a Fiesta.

Only minimal changes to the car are needed. Fitting to a conventional engine is straightforward – for the experts. The system means that the need for a complex infrastructure for providing hydrogen fuel isn’t needed, which is a major stumbling block to the production of purely hydrogen powered vehicles for public consumption.

The worry – if that’s the right word – is the hydrogen itself. This is not a word we like to hear in the same sentence as combustion. With the Rapide S the company have taken the matter of safety very seriously. The hydrogen is stored in four high strength carbon fibre tanks. The gas totals 3.5kg and is stored at a pressure of 350bar. Two tanks are in the boot but the other two are right next to the intrepid driver. To the untutored motorist, the fear, if it appeared on street versions, is that of explosion. Racing accidents tend to happen at very high speeds and can be devastating. Let us hope that this system has been tested and re-tested for full race conditions. The car is capable of 190mph and does the traffic light sprint in just under five seconds.

Both Aston Martin and the company responsible for developing the system hope to demonstrate clearly the safety and reliability of hydrogen power. The system is designed to be an important step on the road to providing a viable hydrogen automotive economy. It’s clean and it’s green and it is not inconceivable that we may well see hydrogen systems of this type appearing in premium sectors of the industry in the medium term future.

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- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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One Response to “Aston Martin To Race With Hydrogen”

  1. BMW says it is committed to introduce new bi-fuel models in the near future. In time it hopes to switch to cars kitted out with lightweight fuel tanks made of aluminium, plastic or carbon fibre and powered by hydrogen only.

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