Does the future of motorsport go through hydrogen?

Global engineering firm specializing in consultancy, development and testing services for the sustainable mobility and clean energy markets, FEV offers solutions for hydrogen mobility. Indeed, as a member of France Hydrogène, FEV is involved in on-board fuel cell systems and hydrogen combustion engines.

To find out more about FEV’s activities related to hydrogen, we got together Nadim Andraos, President of FEV France.

FEV joins forces with ORECA Magny-Cours to develop a future hydrogen combustion engine

  • You have just signed a partnership with motorsport specialist ORECA Magny-Cours with the aim of developing a future hydrogen combustion engine, can you tell us more?

ORECA is a big name in motorsport and it was only natural that FEV wanted to support them in this hydrogen engine project. FEV is responsible for the design and combustion simulation.

  • Why was hydrogen chosen for this project?

The world of motorsport wants to use hydrogen as an energy carrier in future competitions. As an original engine manufacturer, ORECA therefore naturally chose the fuel engine solution for this challenge.

  • What key steps will mark this project?

The project will be structured around 3 main phases:

-The first step consists of validating the position of the hydrogen and water injectors and then the combustion simulations to achieve the desired performance.

-The second step will be spent benching with all the correct components on the engine. On this occasion, the first tests will take place.

-The third is the passage on the vehicle with also the integration of the tanks, with the aim of participating in the Dakar Rally in 2024.

  • The bike is to make its debut in a special stage of the Dakar rally in 2024. What are the objectives of this large-scale test?

The aim is to compete with a hydrogen engine for the first time and to demonstrate that the technology is possible and that we can achieve zero CO2 with an internal combustion engine.

  • What type of hydrogen is used?

The objective for ORECA is to use green hydrogen. However, it remains dependent on the resupply that will be made during the Dakar race. Note, however, that the hydrogen engine is less sensitive to the quality of the hydrogen than a fuel cell.

  • Motorsport is often used to test new technologies before rolling them out to production models. How do you see the future of hydrogen in the mobility sector?

The hydrogen is used in the fuel cell and in the hydrogen engine. More than 12 hydrogen engines have been simulated and tested at FEV, mainly medium displacement (6 to 15 l) for the truck, bus, construction equipment and generator segment.

FEV has the advantage of working on both technologies for the Dakar competition, so this gives us an overview and comparison of the two technologies.

For the mobility sector, hydrogen applications will start with their own fleets (buses, waste containers, community vehicles) due to the availability and deployment of infrastructure. It is important that consumers and producers create synergies to facilitate the deployment of the ecosystem.

In the coming years, the combustion of hydrogen could play an increasingly important role alongside the fuel cell, especially because this technology is easier to set up.

Presence at hydrogen events

  • You attended the Hyvolution show that took place in May, what are the trends that characterized you?

Hyvolution is a very dynamic show and with many visitors many interesting slopes will arise in the coming weeks.

This year FEV had the hydrogen engine from ORECA on the stand. This was inevitably noticed as most exhibitors offer fuel cells. People feel reassured with a hydrogen engine because the technology is comparable to that of a heat engine.

The word that comes up very often is the concept retrofit (converting energy from one mode of transport to another), both for visitors and exhibitors. It is a solution that is interesting and fits into a circular economy logic. Nevertheless, it must be ensured that solutions are offered without risk to the user, hydrogen remains a technology to be tamed and many safety rules must be taken into account (ISO 26262 for the car).

  • Which hydrogen event will you participate in next?

FEV will be present at the 9th edition of the hydrogen days in the areas that will take place in Rouen from 5 to 7 July 2022, an opportunity to rediscover the ORECA engine.