I’m looking forward to the start of Formula E next month, and it’s exciting to hear that the racing league has signed on with Aquafuel to power their cars with algae. Formula E is the all-electric alternative to the popular Formula 1 racing league. Algae will be used to power the mobile generators that will charge batteries used during the race.
Formula E’s sustainability manger Julia Pallé told BusinessGreen the championship organisers have signed a deal with UK start-up Aquafuel to supply generators powered by glycerine, a byproduct of biodiesel that can also be produced from salt-water algae. The fuel is biodegradable, non-toxic and can be used in modified diesel generators to produce power.
“It’s a very innovative compound,” Pallé said at an event at Donington Park yesterday to unveil some of the new technologies being used by Formula E. “It comes from algae so it’s a first generation compound and it uses glycerine so it has no CO2 emissions, no smoke, no noise, no smell. It’s something that isn’t harmful at all. It’s super-efficient and we’re really happy to be working with [Aquafuel] on that.”
Read more here.
Here’s McLaren showing their Formula E car:
For the most part, Formula 1 is just entertainment, but every now and then something really nifty comes out of it. Using models and algorithms developed to monitor an F1 car’s performance, some engineers figured out how to apply them to hospitals.
During a Formula 1 race, a car sends hundreds of millions of data points to its garage for real-time analysis and feedback. So why not use this detailed and rigorous data system elsewhere, like … at children’s hospitals? Peter van Manen tells us more. (Filmed at TEDxNijmegen.)
Formula 1 is a popular international racing league that eschews anything to do with alternative fuels and engines. Formula Zero, on the other hand, is built on the idea that cars of the future will use carbon neutral engines – thus zero carbon output. This is a great idea for a racing league, so start your engines sport racers!
Read more about Formula Zero.
Hydrogen fuel cells power the racers’ electric engines, which can go 0 to 60 (100 km/h) in 5 seconds and up to 75 mph (120 km/h). Of course, winning isn’t everything … the Dutch team Greenchoice Forze claims 70% renewable materials in their car’s bodywork (such as natural flax fibers and bio-based resin) and offsets its carbon footprint with a green energy provider.
“There is no better way to educate the engineers of tomorrow than to give them an opportunty to get hands-on experience with these technologies and to prove their capbilities in a competition,” says Eiso Vaandrager, one of the original organizers and enthusiasts of zero-emissions racing. “Students interested in starting their team for the next season should contact Formula Zero now.”
I’ve always thought of F1 racing as being good research and development for car companies. That line of thinking inevitably lead me to wonder why the cars still use gas when all signs point to hybrid automobiles in the future. I’ve been wondering this for years, and my brother has taken the brunt of my unrelenting curiosity around this.
Finally, F1 will be using hybrid technology in their cars.
The hybrid system that will be phased in is know as KERS, which stands for Kinetic Energy Recovery System. KERS doesn’t store as much energy as a traditional hybrid system, but it only weighs 55 pounds and the limited energy storage capacity is well suited for Formula-style racing.
The biggest difference between KERS and a regular battery-electric hybrid is that KERS stores recovered waste energy in a rotating flywheel. Instead of converting waste energy into electricity and than back into useful energy again with an electric motor, KERS simply transfers the kinetic energy to a ~5kg flywheel in the F1 car’s transmission. The energy stored in the flywheel can then be used by the driver by pushing a “boost” button.