Aston Martin Readying Hydrogen-Powered Racer
By Brandon Turkus
April 12, 2013
Hybrids, diesels, petrol power, EVs; it could all be completely irrelevant in the near future. That is, if we can just figure out how to take hydrogen-powered cars beyond the oddities and small-scale experiments that exist today, and thrust the universe’s most abundant element into the automotive mainstream.
While there have been efforts in the civilian realm, notably from Honda and BMW, no one has ever really tried taking a H-powered car racing. Aston Martin
will change that, though, and the British brand is going big in its first effort.
For this year’s 24 Hours of Nürburgring, Aston will campaign the world’s first hydrogen-powered race car, a modified Rapide S. You may recall that 007’s manufacturer of choice has campaigned its four-door coupe during the 24-hour race in the past, so there’s a precedent here.
As for the whole hydrogen-power thing, it’s not entirely true. The Rapide S being used is perfectly happy running on gasoline or gaseous hydrogen. Its 6.0-liter, biturbocharged V-12 can even run on a blend of the two fuels.
Still, the hardware is in place for zero-emission laps of the Ring. The Hybrid Hydrogen system can store 3.5 kilograms of the stuff, which is then pressurized to over 5000 psi. A unique engine management system allows the team to optimize the car based on which fuel (or which blend) the car is being fed.
The 2013 ADAC Zurich 24 Hours of Nürburgring race weekend begins on May 17.
Please scroll down for the official press release from Aston Martin.
ASTON MARTIN TO RACE WORLD-FIRST HYBRID HYDROGEN RAPIDE S
Global debut for Rapide S race car at ADAC Zurich 24 Hours of Nürburgring
• Aston Martin will be first to race with hydrogen power
• Target of first zero CO2 emission lap in mainstream racing
Aston Martin is ripping up the record books at the 41st ADAC Zurich 24 Hours of Nürburgring next month as the famous British sports car brand is to race a pioneering hybrid hydrogen car.
The record-breaking Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S – based on Aston Martin’s new four-door, four-seat sports car – will become the first hydrogen-powered car to compete in an international event as well as the first zero CO2 emissions sports car to complete a race pace lap at the Nürburgring 24-hour race.
Working in partnership with hydrogen experts Alset Global, Aston Martin’s engineers have developed a prototype twin turbocharged 6.0-litre V12 engine that will power the Nürburgring car.
Capable of running on pure gasoline, pure gaseous hydrogen, or a blend of both, the Hybrid Hydrogen race car showcases Aston Martin’s commitment to engineering innovation. In pure hydrogen mode, Aston Martin and Alset Global aim to show that a zero CO2 emissions lap of the Nordschleife is possible while emitting virtually only water from the exhaust.
Showcasing the technology at the Nürburgring – acknowledged as one of the toughest and most demanding circuits in the world and, of course, nicknamed ‘the Green Hell’ – Aston Martin will underline the reliability and safety of today’s hydrogen technology.
Welcoming the debut of the Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S, Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer Dr Ulrich Bez said: “As we celebrate our centenary in 2013 and look back on a century of excitement, innovation and style it’s also the perfect time to look to the future with this astonishing race car.
“Aston Martin has a strong track record of innovation and, with our superb history of competition and testing at the Nürburgring, it is only right that we showcase this amazing new technology at this year’s 24-hour race.”
He added: “Working with Alset Global to unveil this system in such a challenging environment as the 24 Hours of Nürburgring shows once again how confident we are in our cars, our people and our partners.”
The Hybrid Hydrogen system comprises a hydrogen fuel rail, storage tanks and proprietary engine management system. This enables flexibility in the control of the combustion process according to each particular driving situation: either pure hydrogen, gasoline or a arbitrary blend of both can be selected to ensure optimum power, acceleration and CO2 reduction. This control results in a powerful and dynamic propulsion system that provides sports car performance but with a carbon footprint more akin to that of a supermini.
Safety is paramount, of course, and the system includes four ultra-high strength carbon fibre tanks holding a total of 3.5kg of hydrogen stored at a pressure of 350bar – two tanks housed next to the driver and two in the boot of the car. Meanwhile the entire hydrogen system developed by Alset Global and its partners is approved by German motorsport’s governing body, the DMSB.
The Hybrid Hydrogen race car is based on the new Rapide S four-door sports car that is arriving in Aston Martin showrooms worldwide this month.
Redesigned and re-engineered to offer even greater style and significantly enhanced performance by virtue of its new AM11 6.0-litre V12 naturally aspirated engine, the new Rapide S is capable of 190 mph and sprints from 0 to 62 mph in only 4.9 seconds.
Dr Bez said of the new road car: “It is a four-door sports car that uniquely combines luxury, style and sporting excitement in Aston Martin’s most flexible and accommodating silhouette. This is the four-door sports car in its most versatile form.”
Aston Martin returns to compete in the ADAC Zurich Nürburgring 24 Hours on May 19-20 for the eight successive year. More than 150 cars will start the fearsome 24-hour race, which runs on the daunting 25km circuit that combines the legendary Nordschleife with the modern Grand Prix track.