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Red Bull testing hydrogen fuel cells in innovative racing partnership

Red Bull hydrogen fuel cell race car concept

Red Bull testing hydrogen fuel cells in innovative racing partnership

Red Bull testing hydrogen fuel cells in innovative racing partnership 1024 512 ZEI Team

H2Next: Red Bull Advanced Technologies Teams Up with AVL for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Advancements

Red Bull Advanced Technologies, in collaboration with Austrian mobility experts AVL, is spearheading the development of cutting-edge lightweight fuel cells tailored for motorsport, aviation, and high-performance vehicles.

The innovation hub of Red Bull Racing Grou aims to revolutionize existing fuel cell systems for high-performance racing by achieving up to two-thirds reduction in weight. Early research conducted by the partnership suggests promising gravimetric power density, reaching values of around 6kW/kg at the stack level and 2kW/kg at the fuel cell system level. This breakthrough is poised to yield the world’s highest gravimetric power density PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cell system.

The partnership with AVL, headquartered in Graz, aims to merge Red Bull’s expertise in lightweight design, construction, and aerodynamics with AVL’s proficiency in PEM fuel cell technology. Together, they strive to achieve a significant breakthrough in net-zero carbon technology, catering to sectors such as aerospace, future motorsport series, and various high-payload applications reliant on hydrogen mobility.

High-performance applications demand rigorous standards and specific capabilities from hydrogen fuel cells to ensure optimal efficiency, reliability, and performance. These requirements stem from the unique operational conditions and performance expectations characteristic of high-performance sectors such as motorsport, aviation, and certain automotive applications.

Power Density: High-performance applications often require compact and lightweight power sources to maximize power-to-weight ratios. Hydrogen fuel cells must exhibit exceptional power density, enabling them to deliver significant power output within limited space and weight constraints. This allows for faster acceleration, greater agility, and improved overall performance in motorsport, aviation, and performance cars.

Durability and Reliability: In high-performance environments, where vehicles are subjected to extreme conditions and prolonged periods of operation, fuel cells must demonstrate exceptional durability and reliability. They need to withstand high temperatures, mechanical vibrations, rapid acceleration, and deceleration without compromising performance or longevity. Reliability is crucial to ensure uninterrupted operation and prevent unexpected failures during critical moments, such as races or flights.

Efficiency: Efficiency is paramount in high-performance applications, where every bit of energy matters. Hydrogen fuel cells must efficiently convert hydrogen and oxygen into electrical energy while minimizing energy losses and waste heat generation. High efficiency not only maximizes the utilization of fuel but also enhances the overall energy-to-power conversion, contributing to better performance and longer endurance in motorsport, aviation, and performance vehicles.

Response Time and Dynamic Performance: High-performance vehicles require instantaneous response and rapid power delivery to meet the demands of dynamic maneuvers, rapid acceleration, and sudden changes in load. Fuel cells must exhibit swift response times and dynamic performance characteristics, enabling them to quickly adjust power output in response to throttle inputs or changes in operational conditions. This ensures precise control, enhanced drivability, and superior handling characteristics essential for competitive motorsport and aviation applications.

Safety: Safety is paramount in all applications, but it’s particularly critical in high-performance environments where the stakes are higher. Hydrogen fuel cells must meet stringent safety standards and incorporate robust safety features to mitigate the risks associated with hydrogen storage, handling, and operation. This includes measures to prevent leaks, manage hydrogen dispersion, and ensure safe shutdown procedures in the event of emergencies.

Hydrogen fuel cells for high-performance applications must excel in power density, durability, reliability, efficiency, response time, dynamic performance, and safety to meet the demanding requirements of motorsport, aviation, and performance cars. Achieving these benchmarks is essential to unlock the full potential of hydrogen fuel cell technology in driving innovation and advancing sustainability in high-performance mobility.

At ZEI, we celebrate all innovation in the hydrogen space.