FIA Sets Sights on Liquid Hydrogen Storage for Future of Motorsport Sustainability

By February 29, 2024 3   min read  (483 words)

February 29, 2024 |

2024 02 28 13 42 48

The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has unveiled its strategic vision focusing on the evolution of hydrogen fuel technologies within motorsport, emphasizing the development of liquid hydrogen storage solutions.

This revelation came following deliberations at the latest World Motor Sport Council meeting, where it was determined that the future of hydrogen combustion applications in motorsport would significantly benefit from prioritizing liquid over gaseous hydrogen storage.

The FIA’s announcement did not specifically address fuel cell technologies, implying that the governing body does not overlook the potential of this technology within the motorsport domain.

According to an FIA statement, “Given the [liquid] tank’s characteristics, lower volume and weight compared to compressed gas tanks, liquid storage form is better suited to the demanding environment of motorsport competitions, where optimization is key.” This preference aligns with the inherent need in motorsport for efficiency and performance optimization, as liquid hydrogen storage allows for a powertrain layout that closely resembles that of conventional combustion-powered vehicles, unlike the bulkier accommodations required for compressed gas tanks.

Furthermore, the FIA recognized the use of compressed gas storage as an interim solution, stating, “Solutions utilizing compressed gas storage type will be considered as an interim solution, provided minimum safety and technical requirements are met.” This indicates a transitional approach towards the ultimate goal of integrating liquid hydrogen storage solutions more broadly across motorsport disciplines.

The momentum behind hydrogen as a sustainable alternative to traditional electric powertrains has been gradually increasing, highlighted by its potential for producing only water as a byproduct when synthesized through electrolysis from renewable energy sources. The motorsport industry sees this as a pivotal pathway towards a more sustainable future.

In line with this sustainable vision, plans are already underway for a H2 class at the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours race, anticipated to launch in 2027. This initiative aims to position hydrogen-powered vehicles as contenders for outright victory, marking a significant milestone in motorsport’s sustainable evolution.

Additionally, the inception of the first all-hydrogen racing series, Extreme H, scheduled for next year, signifies a shift from Extreme E to a new era focusing on fuel cell technology. The adoption of fuel cells in motorsport has been explored since 2019 through the MissionH24 joint venture between GreenGT and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, organizers of the Le Mans.

Last year’s collaboration between Extreme H, Formula 1, and the FIA to form a joint Hydrogen Working Group further underscores the concerted efforts to evaluate and integrate hydrogen technology—both in combustion and fuel cell forms—across the spectrum of motorsport disciplines.

The establishment of the FIA’s Hydrogen Technical Working Group in 2019 and the subsequent integration of safety regulations for hydrogen-powered vehicles in its International Sporting Code since 2020, reaffirm the governing body’s commitment to steering motorsport towards a more sustainable and innovative future.

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