RACING'S HYDROGEN FUTURE.
Monday, October 7, 2019 at 12:06PM
Editor

By Peter M. DeLorenzo


Editor's Note:
 With the recent news that there are now five manufacturers involved and working with the ACO to develop a rules package for having a hydrogen category at Le Mans in 2024, we thought we'd revisit once again Peter's revolutionary announcement in 2007 (yes, you read that right, 2007) of the Hydrogen Electric Racing Federation. You can also check out the HERF entry on Wikipedia here. -WG
 
Detroit. The ACO is quite proud of itself for pushing Hydrogen electric fuel cell power for its future racing endeavors, and I applaud the French racing organization for doing so as well. I just wish that they had been paying attention back in January of 2007 when I first proposed the Hydrogen Electric Racing Federation (HERF) to automotive and motorsports executives. But then again, the French feel that the racing world revolves around them, so it's easy to understand how they would miss it.

Simply stated, the premise of HERF was to rewrite the rules for the Future of Racing. HERF revolved around the fact that Hydrogen electric fuel cell power presents the most compelling solution for our future propulsion needs, one that goes beyond the current battery range debate. If you've been reading about the auto industry's coming transformation to electrification and the mass production of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), hydrogen fuel cell power still has the potential to be better than BEVs, by every measure. But back in 2007, the idea of Hydrogen electric fuel cell power was a concept that was 20 years down the road. In fact, it always seemed to remain 20 years down the road. The HERF concept was out to change all of that.

One thing that has been proven time and time again over the decades is that technical advancements developed in racing ended up improving our production cars in terms of aero and mechanical efficiency, suspension, braking and tire development and, of course, power. And the reason that the mass adaptation of Hydrogen electric fuel cell vehicles always seemed to be stuck in neutral (except for recent low-production efforts by Honda and other manufacturers) is that the challenges associated with Hydrogen electric fuel cell power had never been addressed with the kind of urgency that is associated with the white-hot competitiveness found in racing. 

Those challenges were dealing with the heat generated, the secure storage of the on-board hydrogen, the time it takes for refueling, and of course, range. The HERF idea would address those challenges and then some, because racing would radically accelerate those learnings. I also find it amusing that manufacturers are embracing various artificial electronic sound enhancements for their BEVs right now (the noise generated by BEVs is - ahem - lacking to say the least) because the HERF rules package required the participating manufacturers to create their own sound signatures, which would be a combination of audio projection and from the noise generated by air flowing over the bodywork.

The HERF concept was strongly embraced by GM and to a lesser extent by Toyota, with other manufacturers waiting in the wings to see who would participate. Bob Lutz introduced me at the meeting and suggested that GM welcomed the competition from the other manufacturers, but in the end it was a case of one manufacturer waiting for the other manufacturers to jump in, and instead everyone got a lethal case of frigid feet, and HERF was killed in the ice storm.

I still strongly believe in the HERF concept and that it represents a clear path for the Future of Racing. The ACO and others now agree, apparently.

And that's the High-Octane Truth for this week.
Jackie Stewart (No. 1 Carl Haas Racing L&M Lola T260 Chevrolet) gave the vaunted McLaren team all they could handle in the 1971 Can-Am season. Stewart won twice - at Mont-Treblant and Mid-Ohio - and was a force to be reckoned with at every race the Haas Lola was entered.

 

 

Article originally appeared on UjianNasional.com ~ the bare-knuckled, unvarnished, high octane truth... (http://ujian-nasional.info/).
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