Is hydrogen fuel a way to go for F1?

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    I am picking up from the improving F1 series Keith did here.

    Lately a lot of new developments emerged in the field of electrical cars, hybrid technology and hydrogen as well.

    With London taxis going for hydrogen engines, would this be a future option for F1 as well? Will it work, what about engine noises, will it feel like real racing.

    What do you think?



    I’ve always loved the thought of this, however it’s a matter of horse power. If however Mr Todt were to say this, in 2018 all engines have to produce zero carbon from exhausts the development would happen. An they’d be quick eventually, an the exhaust gasses would look 100% awesome. Probably be put to good use as well exhaust powerd what?

    However right now? Too heavy, too expensive, not enough power. But it would feel like racing as the power increased.



    I don’t see the need for F1 to go down this road. The cars may use a lot of fuel and have very poor co2 numbers but I struggle with the fact that there are 24 cars driving 600km 17 times a year. This in total can only equate to 1 road car with reasonable yearly usage. The teams should be greener in transport etc.

    The thought of a silent F1 car or an artifically created engine noise is not worth thinking about.



    I have sympathy with what Rampante is saying, I’m not much of a global warming beleiver anyway. But at the end of the day the amount of oil that can be extracted economically is limited and the days of petrol powering motorsport are going to be limited by that fact.

    People also need to realise that electric or other forms of propulsion does not necessarilly equal slow. I know I seem to be banging on about the TT a lot but here it is relevant. In the TT Zero class on Monday night a purely electric powered bike was clocked at 132mph on the Sulby straight in practice and is expected to come close to breaking the 100mph barrier for average speed over a lap in tomorrows race. Considering the bike has been developed for only three years by a small private team in California I have no doubt that given the right development and resources there are serious long term alternatives to petrol driven motor racing.

    Whether silent vehicles would produce anything like the same spectacle is another matter, it is very weird to watch a motor bike travelling past at over 100mph and only hearing the sound of tyres on the road and the wooshing of the air. It would take an awful lot of getting used to.



    I admit i am all into doing thing efficiently. For me the efficiency of the F1 engines, getting enormous power out of those engines is a real thrill, they get a lot closer to using what is in the fuel than most road car engines.

    I understand what you say Rampante, and i am not convinced doing away with combustion would be good. You are right that even if F1 cars would have no emissions at all, it would not make any difference (stopping flying and driving to races would as would optimizing travel in the season, but that’s a different thing).

    But i see enormous opportunities for technology development to get these cars to get even more out of it. So i like the principe of KERS and electrical energy supporting with tracktion to have even better cars. Not to help the environment, as that is not the target of racing, but to get them to even more crazy speeds and decelaration.

    Driving on electrical engery is not the best idea, it is pretty heavy, batteries have to be changed often and the worst thing is, producing electricity is not a very efficient proces as it stands.

    Therefore i think it is exiting to have F1 engineers having a go at hydrogen cells to build racing drivetrains and see if they can make it competative in the next years.



    It would be interesting if Mr. Todt said next year there shall be zero emmisions, now find a way to make it work, and he left the teams to create new engines that could potentially be fast and fun to watch and drive. Of course, mid way thru the season, half of the engines would be banned, but still, it would be fun to see Hydrogen versus electric versus sand from mars.



    I got the inspiration for this from reading an article on the first London taxis with hydrogen fuel cells hitting the streets before 2012

    link: http://www.theengineer.co.uk/news/hydrogen-fuelled-london-taxi-unveiled/1002798.article?cmpid=TE01P&cmptype=newsletter



    Zero emmisions is the thing. Only the mad or misinformed truly deny global warming. Thing is F1 is the perfect place to deliver on this sort of thing. Technology grows here at lightning speed, faster then anywhere in the world. 12 competing R+D departments with million pound budgets.

    My idea would be to set a date far in the future 8-10 years, at which points, an it doesn’t matter how they do it, so long as it’s not unethical (thousands of mini hamsters on steroids) but F1 cars must produce zero emissions from that date.

    However to make this truly possible, resourse restrictions are going to have to be loosened.



    I am all for hydrogen fuel cells being used in everyday cars, I have never been a fan of battery powered cars as I feel they harm the environment more than they help it and manufacturers only use them to make their cars look ‘green’.

    However all us fanatics know that an F1 car is very clean, apparently a flight from London to Japan emmits more co2 than all the cars in a season. F1’s large carbon footprint doesn’t come from the cars, its more the travelling and there is nothing F1 can do about that.

    Having said that, image is everything in F1 and if outsiders looking in think F1 needs hydrogen to stay relevant then I think the FIA will make sure it does so. I, personally, only hope this comes when there isn’t a drop of oil left on earth



    Scribe, I am not here to deny global warming but it is not a totally one sided argument. The Romans grew olives and vines as far north as Newcastle 1500 years ago, not because they were clever but because global temps were different to those today. The planet gains and loses temp in cycles. Ask the dinosaurs. An alternative fuel source will be needed and science will find it as it always has. However there will always be oil for as long as humans are on the planet, whether it is economical to extract is another question and I’m happy to watch F1 with petrol engines. We may as well have mini reactors with zero emission cells that produce all the power you want.



    Well first, there won’t always be oil. It is a finite recource, it will run out eventually, maybe sooner than you’d think.

    An I’m aware that there are natural fluctuations in tempreture, but as someone who has personally spent a fair bit of time studying global warming, it’s fairly unequivocal, the greenhouse effect has been proven true in both labs an the atmosphere, tempreture is on a definate upward trend etc. Lots of historical proof as well. I did wonder before I studied it quite how clear cut the arguments and facts were, but now all I can say is that I’m baffled theres an argument at all, the evidence is so clear and bloody obvious it suprises me anyone can cast doubt on man made climate change any more, you’d almost think there where billion dollar oil coparations and various vested intrests muddying the water or something.

    An F1 has to face up to that, I’m also aware of the scale and quantity arguments, I realise that one F1 race, or even twenty doesn’t produce much carbon in the run of things. But it’s the pinacle of the motor industry. An F1 can be an incredbily useful tool in finding the technology the motor industry needs to stay viable once peak oil production is reached, and it’s comming. And people are going to come down harder and harder on F1 if it can’t change, while it doesn’t produce much carbon proportionaly, it’s still a ridiculously inefficient sport in many respects. Why not get them off our backs straight away, an become a pinacle of green technology as well. It will benefit the sport, the man on the street(in his car) and the planet. Everybody wins.


    Ned Flanders

    Vineyards in Newcastle? Did they build Hadrians Wall to protect the grapes?!

    I heard that a single transtlantic plane uses more fuel taking off than all F1 cars do in an entire season. I’m not sure if that’s true… but you get the idea, F1 itself isn’t actually that environmentally unfriendly.

    Joe Saward mentioned a while back that the sporting event which creates the most environmental damage is the Tour de France, as millions of spectators travel by car to watch. Of course, cycling is never going to get the same level of critism as F1. A sport where competitors burn fuel at a ridiculous rate to go round in circles is always going to be an easy target.



    Oil is getting less in excess every minute, even though the rising oil-prices make even more complicated methods at getting to it viable from a profit perspective, bringing higher risks with it (Mexican gulf oil drilling?).

    Even so, some experts think we allready passed peak oil production or are very close to doing so in the next few years. Oil will not last, even finding more of it and using less won’t help that.

    But i am not pushing for F1 to become environmenally active, i would just like it to prospect good ways of using differing fuels to get more racing as well as challenging engineering in doing so.

    The drive train is most important in this and hydrogen fuel could be a good way about it, getting new minds to focus on F1 as a sporting challenge and help the world and interested parties with spin off products/knowledge resulting in revenue generated around the motorsport industry.

    That is not about wanting to be “green” nor “tree hugger”, just liking challenges and making sporting succes and money out of doing things more clever than others.



    Well ned, i think the Tour the France got a lot more bad press than F1 has got, because of same problems F1 has, i.e. the sport losing focus and letting spending and trics getting out of hand.

    In the Tour it led to horrible amounts of drugs and doping being used.

    The F1 equivalent is the money spent on doing 100.000 miles of testing, year of Windtunnel and CFD work and impossible alloys to get to the top.

    But that is a little bit off topic.

    Interesting about the Hadrianus wall being built for grapes :D , we might try to run the cars on wine! That is a pretty traditional fuel, but not it can last forever, if we treat our vineyards well.



    Alcohol is a very viable fuel. As an oenologist by profession it could be an very easy and reasonably clean way forward. Alcohol can be made from just about any organic matter. I still want to smell petrol in the air at a race.

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