GeenGT to Run Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car at 2013 24 Hours of LeMans
While the 24 Hours of LeMans has always been an event that allowed vehicle manufactures to debut their cutting-edge technology, recently, the annual race that takes place each June has become a showcase for car manufacturer's latest green vehicle technologies. Last year marked the first time a hybrid car won the race when Audi took the checkered flag with their R18 e-tron quatrro. The trend ostensibly will continue at next year's race, but this time, with engine technology that will be brand new to the racetrack. GreenGT, a French company that develops green powertrain solutions for racing and concept cars, announced that it will enter the 2013 running of the French classic with its hydrogen fuel cell-powered Green GT H2 prototype race car.
The GreenGT will be capable of going up to 186 mph, and will be able to race for 40 minutes straight on a single tank of hydrogen. In addition, it'll one-up other "green" competitors by producing zero exhaust emissions. Instead, the car will only emit air and water. Last year's hybrid entries from Audi and Toyota relied on diesel and gasoline motors, respectively, and were complemented by hybrid electric motors. The GreenGT H2, though, will use its hydrogen fuel cell to power dual electric motors that are rated at a combined 537 horsepower, and a staggering 2,950 pound-feet of torque. To get all that muscle to the ground, the car relies on the company's patented torque vectoring differential gearbox (also known as a transmission) to send power to the wheels. The unique system allows the company to vary the amount of power sent to the wheels, which will allow the car's engineers to use its suspension system control vehicle handling response, while the torque vectoring system provides stability during acceleration and deceleration.
Due to the car's extreme torque output, and additional weight from its advanced hydrogen fuel cell and dual electric motor drivetrain, the team has partnered with the tire manufacturer Dunlop to create a special tire that can cope with the additional loads.
Dunlop Motorsport general manager Jean-Felix Bazein explained that the GreenGT H2 poses a unique set of challenges that go beyond existing tire technology, so the company is developing a new tire using new construction techniques that will provide increased longitudinal stiffness during heavy acceleration. On top of this, the car's torque vectoring system allows the GreenGT H2's engineers to change the power delivery for specific tracks, so Dunlop's engineers must develop a tire compound to suit the changes.
The venture with the GreenGT also marks Dunlop's new commitment to developing tires specifically for enhancing the performance and handling of electric cars. Dunlop engineers hope what they learn through the Green GT H2 race program will help the company produce tires that driver further with less energy consumed, while also maximizing grip.
While we may still be years away from having widely available, completely green supercars, the new venture between GreenGT and Dunlop should prove to be exciting for drivers of even the most docile green passenger cars. And as is usually the case with racing, the lessons learned on the track will undoubtedly trickle down the consumer.