Motor racing is an expensive sport with lots of fuel burnt during practice and the race. The fuel used are usually high octane highly refined gasoline and we all know gasoline burnt amounts to more CO2 in the atmosphere. I love motor racing with a sportsman hat, but when I wear the earthly environment-friendly hat it irks me a bit whenever I see the amount of fuel that goes into the Formula 1 car during the pit stop. Even more irritating is when a minor mistake leads to a fire on the fuel tank door during the pit stop thereby burning off some fuel externally. 2008 F1 season has seen it happening more often. So in effect I have two alter egos within myself that fights everyday – a motor sports loving heart pounding at 18,000 RPM fighting against an Earth friendly brain at Rest. Battle of the minds are always difficult to handle.
But I see a ray of hope from the past few days. The future of Motor racing could be altered into zero emissions by this single most significant event. Hydrogen powered Fuel cells emit nothing but water (H2O) when burnt to convert into electrcity. Formula Zero (The website is in Dutch) is a Go Kart racing championship with cars built with Hydrogen powered fuel cells. Sure, the cars won’t do top speeds of 330 Kmph at 18,000 RPM but with much more improvement in Hydrogen Fuel cell technology we could do that speed.
The first ever Hydrogen powered Car racing happened last weekend at Rotterdam, Netherlands. The wise used to say “A Journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step”. I am glad that the first step in environment friendly racing has been taken. As the interest grows in Green racing the current Formula zero class is expected to grow to Formula 3 very soon. Also, the Formula zero is already recognized by the motor sport governing body FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile).
Dubbed the Formula Zero championship, the contest pitted teams from five countries against each other in a zero-emissions go-kart race. Each team’s entry was powered by a commercial fuel cell that produces electricity from hydrogen. A Dutch team won the endurance event, while a Spanish team clinched the award for fastest lap.
So what does this mean to Green Motor sporting and in effect leading to more Green cars?
In one word I will say it as Sponsorship. With sponsorship you will have the much needed funding to get the sport to higher levels. Funding is used to do more research on the car components and build faster, efficient and cheaper engines and fuel cell technology. Improvements in Racing always ties down to usage of those technology in parts by commercial vehicle makers. This will make way for cheaper and more efficient electric and fuel cell cars for the road. If popular car makers like Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, Honda enter this racing as teams then the technology will be more accessible for these auto makers and in turn will be easier for them to put it to use for commercial purposes.
As it grows faster and reaches Formula 3 and perhaps Formula 1 someday, Motor Racing can finally give up on oil and become a completely environment friendly sport. This is my dream and until this dream materializes my mind will be at constant battle.
In other news, MDI’s (Motor Development International) Air Car is beginning to see some light (It is out in the streets, probably for test rides) and getting ready for 2009 launch in France. This car runs on compressed air which is something that can be easily made available using existing Air Compressor machines (similar to the one that fills air in tyres). I believe Tata has some investment (Beware: Old News!) and involvement with this company and who knows we might see a Tata Indicair or Nano-air soon!
The car boasts a 50 mile range running off of compressed air, and can stretch that further by heating up the air with another power source.
So if you have to go beyond 50 miles you should either start blowing air into the fuel tank with your mouth or use the power of Flatulence caused by Sambar/Vada Paav. Obviously don’t do it alternatively!