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Zero Emission Vehicles

Why hydrogen is one of the future solutions to power vehicles.

In the past, multiple types of fuels have been used to power vehicles. In the beginning of motoring history, electric cars were also available. At this moment, multiple resources are used to power a vehicle; petrol, diesel, bio-fuels, natural gas, electricity and hydrogen. The developments in recent decades made us realize how important a sustainable solution for mobility is. Fossil fuels are getting scarce, expensive and are polluting our planet.

New, potentially more sustainable systems have been developed over the years, among which the hydrogen fuel cell. Forze is considering hydrogen as one of the future solutions to power vehicles, but realises this technology is suited for many more applications like powering our homes. Leading car manufacturers like Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Hyundai are developing fuel cell cars and started selling them in 2015. Many more manufacturers are investigating fuel cell technology as well and are expected to bring fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) to the market soon.

Many European countries are investing in hydrogen filling station networks to accommodate these cars. Germany is a perfect example, aiming for 100 hydrogen refueling stations in 2020. But outside of Europe, hydrogen is gaining even more momentum. Japan for example aims to have 40,000 FCVs on the road and 150 operational hydrogen refueling stations by the same year. Moreover it plans to have entire buildings of the Olympic Village powered by hydrogen fuel cells during the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo. Today though, hydrogen fuel cell race cars are very rare. Forze is the only student team working with high power automotive fuel cells worldwide.

Hydrogen Electric

How hydrogen powers our race car.

In a conventional road car, the energy that is stored in fuel is converted to mechanical energy, by the principle of combustion. The Forze cars however, utilize a different and far more efficient concept. The fuel cell on board the vehicles converts the energy stored in its fuel, the hydrogen, to electric energy. This means that the hydrogen fuel cell system can be used to power an electric drivetrain like a battery.

The efficiency of the fuel conversion is about two to three times higher than a conventional combustion engine. Furthermore, there are some qualities which set hydrogen-electric vehicles apart from their battery-electric relatives. The most obvious would be the time required to recharge/refill and the driving range. Hydrogen tanks can be refilled within minutes, like a conventional combustion car, whereas batteries currently need hours to recharge.

This makes hydrogen-electric propulsion ideal for applications where non-stop operation and/or a long driving range is required.