Unveiled in its sixth iteration in late 2013, the Forze VI has just set a new Nurburgring lap record for a fuel-cell powered car running purely of hydrogen. At the onset of the development of the car, a record at ‘Green Hell’ was one of the primary targets of the VI.
With former Formula 1 racer Jan Lammers behind the wheel, the Forze VI managed to lap the famous German racetrack in under 11 minutes. Interestingly, no exact time has been released but the lap wasn’t set on a deserted Nurburgring like most records. Instead, there was traffic which the VI had to deal with inevitably impacting its eventual lap time to some degree.
During its record-setting run, the Forze VI managed to top out at 170 km/h along the circuit’s long straight, but the students behind the car believe with refinements, a theoretical top speed of 220 km/h should be achievable. Additionally, 100 km/h should be possible to accomplish in less than 4 seconds.
Discussing the lap, Lammers said “It is truly awe inspiring how the students have designed and built a race car that also handles so well, even more so considering the highly advanced technology it contains. I tip my hat to them.”
As mentioned the VI features a fuel cell powertrain meaning it combines hydrogen and oxygen to create electrical energy. This energy is used to power two electric motors with a combined power output of 190 kW (260 hp). The car can hold 3 kg of hydrogen in two tanks, which means the car can run on full power for 30 minutes, after which the tanks can be refuelled in 3 minutes. The students from Delft University of Technology, want to use this car to demonstrate the potential and role that hydrogen can play in the future of mobility both on the track and on the road.
It was the ultimate test for the student built hydrogen powered racing car from TU Delft: a lap on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. With no one less than former Formula 1 racer Jan Lammers at the wheel, the Forze VI raced through 73 challenging corners, and completed the 21 kilometres of world class racing track in under 11 minutes. Never before has any other racing car with a hydrogen fuel cell completed the track so fast, making a clear statement about the potential of this technology and it’s place in the automotive industry.
Jan Lammers had some resounding words for the racing team: “It is truly awe inspiring how the students have designed and built a race car that also handles so well, even more so considering the highly advanced technology it contains. I tip my hat to them.”
The Forze VI was designed by a group of over 50 students from Delft University of Technology. Together they have dedicated two and a half years in making a hydrogen electric racing car, the first of its kind. “The successful lap is an enormous motivator for the team”, said team leader Menno Dalmijn. “The circuit is not dubbed ‘The green hell’ for nothing, as it pushes all race cars to their absolute limits. With the lap data gathered, the analysis will aid the team in reaching the higher power limits of their racer, which so far has only driven on half power”. The Forze VI reached top speeds of 170km/h on the track, but the students believe that it can do much more. With some optimizations and tweaks, the car will theoretically reach a top speed of 220km/h, along with 0 to 100km/h acceleration within a mere 4 seconds. “And the best part is that the only by-product we produced was pure water, meaning a carbon footprint of zero”, added Menno Dalmijn.
In the race car’s fuel cell, hydrogen and oxygen are allowed to react with each other under controlled circumstances. The cell uses the gasses to produce electricity directly with an efficiency of 60%. Without any other conversions, the produced electricity directly powers the electric motors. For this reasons, this technology has one huge advantage above electric cars with batteries: operational range. Similar to gasoline, the hydrogen tanks can be refuelled within minutes, allows long distance travel for electric cars to be highly practical.
The focus of the Formula Zero Team Delft has been the development of hydrogen technologies since 2008. In the coming years, they will go head to head with combustion engines in various races, with the ultimate goal being the 24 hour Le Mans, using nothing but hydrogen.