Images: Fuel-cell karts power a ‘racing circus’
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Dutch company Formula Zero is trying to have fun while saving the planet–it’s preparing to launch a zero-emission kart-racing circuit. One of the goals of the project is to develop new and more powerful fuel cells, technology that’s being touted as one route to reducing automotive air pollution.rn
The company has developed a “racing circus” modeled after the barnstorming flying circuses of the early days of aviation nearly a century ago. Formula Zero hopes to spread its vision for developing automobile technology that is safe for the environment.
One goal of Formula Zero is to build the fastest-accelerating fuel-cell vehicle in the world, capable of going from zero to 100 kilometers per hour (about 60 mph) in less than 8 seconds.
The first kart developed by Formula One is the Mark 2. It’s powered by a “click and go” cartridge system designed to allow a hydrogen tank to be easily placed in the vehicle, without leaking.
As the venue for its racing circus, Formula Zero has developed a portable race track that it says can be set up on any flat surface, with seating for about 1,500 spectators. The circus would feature not only racing, but also demonstrations, training sessions and celebrities.rn
Formula Zero plans to stage demo races in Europe this year, and then from 2007 to 2009 to expand its demo-racing circuit globally. Full-scale racing would begin in 2010.
The racing karts would use the HyPM7 fuel cell power module.
A hydrogen fuel tank (above) is used by Formula Zero karts. Below are Boostcap ultracapacitors that are used to store excess amounts of energy produced by the fuel cell during braking. The Boostcap ultracapacitors can provide an extra energy boost when accelerating out of a corner or passing.
Mechanics use a laptop to fine-tune the engine.
Here’s a kart under construction.
Two Dutch designers, Godert van Hardenbroek (with helmet) and Eelco Rietveld (left), raise a champagne toast to the Formula Zero racing project. They began the project in June 2003.
Formula Zero has started small with racing karts but as fuel-cell technology develops, it plans to gradually stretch the vehicles until they reach Formula One size in about 2015.
This chart shows how a fuel cell combines water and oxygen to produce electric current and exhaust. Excess energy is stored in Boostcaps.
No, Apple isn’t involved in Formula Zero racing but MACS like the one shown here are the brains of the karts–controlling the engine, powertrain and batteries.
It doesn’t matter what kind of engine you’re using–part of the thrill of driving is being able to do donuts.
This is the emission from the Formula Zero engines. Emissions collected from six minutes of racing will fill a 0.3-milliliter bottle of water. You’d want to add minerals and salt to be able to drink it.