"It sounds simple, right? Hydrogen emits only water. The most pressing issue on the planet today is dirty emissions, which en masse are responsible for a huge proportion of the heating of the planet. Doesn’t it make sense, then, "
Alternative Fuel: Quick Chemistry
Hydrogen fuel cells aren’t only able to power suburban sedans and buses. With the right focus they can be made to take on motorsport’s toughest challenges. And to demonstrate the fact and with impeccable timing as the ink was drying on the latest apocalyptic report on climate change, Michelin’s ground-breaking hydrogen-powered endurance race car – The ‘H24’ made its UK debut at the 2021 Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Back in 2018 Le Mans organiser Automobile Club de l’Ouest and electric-hydrogen specialist GreenGT announced that they would launch a hydrogen class of vehicles in 2024; an initiative collectively known as ‘MissionH24.’
In response to the challenge, the hydrogen fuel cell powered racer from Michelin debuted as it took on the world-famous hillclimb and it was showcased on the Michelin Supercar Paddock stage every day of the four-day event. The car represents a significant technological development, backed by partners Michelin and hydrogen fuel cell maker Symbio.
Symbio is Michelin’s joint venture with Faurecia – aiming to build 30,000 fuel cells a year by 2030. Image: MICHELIN
The H24 has its sights set on the world’s premier endurance racing competitions, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Its ‘four-stack’ hydrogen fuel cell powers four electric motors, creating a combined output of 653hp. This power, coupled with the car’s lightweight chassis and aerodynamic features, give it a top speed in excess of 185mph (300 km/h), while allowing it to maintain the durability and handling performance expected of a high-level endurance racing vehicle.
Alongside the H24 car, Michelin also unveiled a race tyre made up of 46% sustainable raw materials, including recycled carbon black from end-of-life tyres, orange and lemon peel, sunflower oil, pine resin and recycled steel from packaging.
The French tyre behemoth has pledged to make all its tyres with 100% sustainable materials by 2050 – and by 2030, 40% of all materials used in tyres across the group will be sustainable. The industry in general will use endurance racing as a laboratory to accelerate the development of sustainable, high-performance tyres for all sectors.
In combination with batteries, hydrogen fuel cells will be used to increase range and enable the development of green long-distance and urban travel. Symbio has targeted production of 200,000 fuel cells a year by 2030.
Motorsport has always proved to be the vital test space for tech development. And in the race toward deployable hydrogen fuel cell tech, endurance racing just might be the perfect platform.
Quad-stacked fuel cells make this car fast and clean. Image: MICHELIN
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