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.”
The electric car racing league Formula E launches next year, which means that the racers need to build their cars now. The Drayson LMP 1 has 800 bhp and 4000 (!!) lb feet of torque all without a drop of petrol. This is a really impressive car and I can’t wait to see what other marvels of engineering will be unveiled for Formula E.
The best part of all of this, is that all the research will eventually end up in consumer vehicles.
So in part this is motorsport going back its roots as a development exercise. Everything learnt here will somehow impact on the way we interact with electric cars in the future and with his business head in place, Drayson sees this being a natural continuation of UK dominance in motorsport. We have the skills to be the pre-eminent makers of electric racing cars in the future, just as we are the dominant force in petrol power at the moment.
The thrust is hard to comprehend at first, – actually, scratch that, summoning the courage to push the long-travel throttle pedal to the floor is more difficult. For the first loop I don’t manage it, and still the car seemingly is picked up and flung into the next corner. Next time around I try full throttle – or whatever the new phrase for maximum everything will be on electric racers – and the effect numbs the brain. Because it is so instant. It just happens.
Car racing is a popular sport around the world and it used to be a great testing bed for new, more efficient, technology used in internal combustion engines. Today, the technological improvements seem to be more on material science rather than fuel efficiency (most racing leagues still allow leaded gasoline).
Formula E will have it’s first season in 2014 and the new FIA-sanctioned championship wants car companies to focus their efforts on electric cars.
Formula E’s intent is to show how exciting electric vehicles can be as they race around inner city street courses. Ten cities are being lined up for the stage races in 2014 – with nine announced so far: London, Rome, Los Angeles, Miami, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janerio, Bangkok and Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur.
Formula E has the backing of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) – motor racing’s global governing body, which also oversees Formula One.
Landing Renault is significant. Renault is the engine supplier and a big sponsor of Red Bull Racing and a former F1 champion itself. Renault has also invested more in all-electric cars than any other manufacturer and believes Formula E will give it a global marketing opportunity to show off the performance and safety of electric cars.
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!
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.
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.