Formula Zero emissions

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.

A fuel cell is an electrochemical conversion device. It produces electricity from fuel (on the anode side) and an oxidant (on the cathode side), which react in the presence of an electrolyte.


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!

17 Comments Add yours

  1. vishesh says:

    hmm…heard research is on among the teams to get a really environment friendly engine….which team do u support?

  2. arvind says:

    h,mm.. i don’t follow f1 racing that much. .
    i just know some big names in the sport thats it ..
    so the info was quite new to me and interesting and informative one

  3. Dinesh Babu says:

    Vishesh – It is still a beginning stage for me with Formula zero. I think the teams are all University research teams and they dont have any alliance with branded car manufacturers yet. So we have to give it time and see how it goes. As for Formula 1, I support Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen.

    Arvind – I am glad I made you learn some new stuff.

  4. Reema says:

    Hmmm typical guy post. No idea about car racing and I think its not a good sport. Too dangerous. 🙂

  5. smallstar says:

    Heya! How are you? Amd how are things going? 🙂

  6. Dinesh Babu says:

    Reema – This post is more about Environment friendly Fuel ideas – Hydrogen Fuel Cell and Compressed Air, than just Motor Racing. Yes, Racing is a dangerous sport, People (Aryton Senna) have died in it. But Safety has improved off late. Also, I do not agree that this is a Guy post or Racing is a Guy thing. My wife watches the race with me (and also my 1.5 year old daughter, she likes it for some reason). She likes Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari too!

    Smallstar – Hi, I am doing great. Things are fine here. Havent seen you blogging for quite sometime! Welcome back, Hope you are feeling good.

  7. smallstar says:

    @Dinesh: aww nice to know that things are fine!! 🙂 I am very happy for you!

    I am fine!

    **thanks 4 ur warming welcome**

  8. I noticed that this is not the first time you mention the topic. Why have you chosen it again?

  9. gombioffbar says:

    Good web site. Will definitely come back again soon=D

  10. the air compressors that we use at home are the high powered ones, we also use it for cleaning *.~

  11. Formula one racing with a hydrogen tank under the car is not a good combo. It will go boom and the driver will die. That’s just too much hydrogen in one place and it’s moving way too fast.

  12. news says:

    I experimented with viewing your blog with my blackberry and the structure does not seem to be correct. Might want to check it out on WAP as well as it seems most cellular phone layouts are not working with your web page.

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