Will the future of driving pleasure include hydrogen?

It was supposed to be the attraction of the last edition of Six Hours of Spa: of course we are talking about Renault Alpenglow Hy4 which was to appear in public for the first time. This racing car, which started its career as a concept, is equipped with a four-cylinder engine 2 liters with 340 horsepower and works on hydrogen. Which means the exhaust spews only a few drops of water vapor. Unfortunately, a technical problem postponed this premiere on the Hautes Fagnes plateau, and the Alpenglow Hy4 will finally debut on the next 24 Hours of Le Mans.

More importantly, on the sidelines of the race, Renault hinted through the Alpine designer, Athony the villainthis production version Alpenglow Hy4 was seriously considered. The path that leads from the circuit to the road so everything seems mapped out. It will most certainly be a limited edition at first, but Renault still hints that this model will be leveraged to create applications aimed at a wider audience. In Japan, Toyota already offers a similar formula with the Corolla equipped with a 1.6 liter Otto engine powered by hydrogen.

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Fastest on the Nürburgring?

Prefer hydrogen as energy vector it is therefore more and more tangible for sports cars. This is proven by an article published last week in The Korean Economic Daily, which indicated that Hyundai’s plans for sporty N74 Vision gradually materialized. The project has already been mentioned, but the paper provided more details, such as the top speed 250 km/hproduction of 200 units over two years and even a price that would revolve around… 340,000 euros ! Last but not least: Korean engineers aim for their baby to beat all records on tour Nürburgring. And on this last point, the task is difficult as he holds this recordAMG GT-One with a time of 6:35.183. Hot! But Hyundai is clearly not shy, as evidenced by the patents for this filing ultra-efficient fuel cell. Because really, unlike Renault, the Koreans did not opt ​​for an internal combustion engine.

However, it should be borne in mind that the yield fromhydrogen in heat engine classic is stilts : does not exceed 30%, while for the fuel cell it reaches twice the value (ie 60%). But for cars that drive a few kilometers and mainly aim driving pleasure, efficiency is a less important part of the equation. I think so too Ferrari who also filed an application patent, but for a hydrogen engine installed in reverse. Or almost. However, note that the Maranello brand will also launch its first all-electric sports car next year.

Disadvantages of hydrogen

It was believed for a while electric supercars the batteries were about to come through, especially with regard to the deeds Rimac Neverof Tesla Roadster (from rest to 100 km/h in less than two seconds) or the Lotus 135, which will be launched from 2027 with a 66 kWh (469 hp) or 99 kWh (872 hp) battery. But as with mass electric cars, interest in these models is falling like a soufflé out of the oven. Engineers actually meet difficulties with this concept especially because ofthermal instability cells when severely stressed, but also a faster wear and the enemy par excellence of the sports car, because of mass these batteries. Under these conditions it is alternatives they are therefore more than welcome, provided they are consistent with carbon reduction targets.

However, it is not hydrogen as a sports shot not a magic solution neither. Because a tank oscillating between 4 to 6 kilograms of H2 – that’s the minimum – quickly weighs 100 kilograms. The only advantage is that when considering a hydrogen heat engine, we do without a buffer battery (between the fuel cell and the wheels). In addition, hydrogen also ignites much more quickly than fossil fuels, requiring a special injection system manage the process. Finally, there is the question of producing enoughgreen hydrogen (i.e. produced from renewable energy sources). If we consider a model powered by gray hydrogen (from fracking natural gas), it is better to run on gasoline. The interest is there and it kind of revives hope for sports cars as we know them. But getting there is still a long way to go.

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