Gentlemen, start your fuel cells!

Last August, Ceramic Tech Weekly reported on the first Formula Zero Championship. It was the first racing competition fueled by hydrogen. Next month, the team from Delft, Netherlands, will try to extend their title as reigning world champion.

“Team Delft” consists of more than 40 students from various faculties of Delft University of Technology. The student team has developed a kart, dubbed Greenchoice Forze, powered by a PEM fuel cell.

Race organizers – Formula Zero – and the teams want to promote and develop sustainable technology in an attractive way.

“In this project, I see the future of motorsport,” says Jan Lammers, Dutch racing driver and former Le Mans winner.

Besides its power source, the Team Delft vehicle’s bodywork is another interesting feature. It consists of more than 70 percent renewable materials, such as natural fibers and a specially developed bio-based resin.

The Greenchoice Forze has a top speed of 120 kilometers per hour and accelerates from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in five seconds. The fuel cell’s 8 kW (11 BHP) output powers two electric motors, and a set of supercapacitors, such as those featured in the April 2009 issue of the ACerS Bulletin, provide burst of power for acceleration.

The Team Delft is officially the world’s first hydrogen racing team, and won the world’s first hydrogen race in Rotterdam last year. In August 2009 the team will compete in races in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. Schools in each of these countries have also developed fuel cell karts, plus an entry from the United States is expected. The U.K. entry, Imperial Racing Green, is also working on a full-scale fuel cell racer.

All of these races are part of the Formula Zero championship series.

Greenchoice, supplier of sustainable energy in the Netherlands and sponsor of the Team Delft kart, says the project contains the two necessary steps towards a sustainable world. “The willingness of people to change without sacrificing comfort, and the technologies that enable a sustainable world. Both aspects can be found in this project, and we aim to showcase the possibilities of driving on hydrogen” says Rob van Rees, executive director of Greenchoice.

Team Delft has a YouTube channel with several videos on the kart’s performance, power system and body. Here is a sample: