The Hydrogen Electric Racing Federation has announced its specifications for the cars that will be competing in the first Hydrogen 500 race in 2009. The two main criteria are that the cars use a hydrogen fuel cell to power an electric motor, (which then turns the wheels of the car) and compressed hydrogen gas at 10,000 psi must be used for fuel.
The hydrogen racecars will generate at least 400 hp and the projected lap speed at the Indianapolis 500 racetrack is upwards of 185 mph.
Critics may argue that the race showcases hydrogen fuel cell and gaseous hydrogen technology while neglecting other technologies. For instance, currently, the world’s fastest hydrogen racecar, the BMW HR2 will not be able to compete for two reasons.
First, the car runs off liquid hydrogen. Second, the HR2 uses an internal combustion engine to power the vehicle and not a fuel cell. Other hydrogen technology that will be excluded from the race include cars that run on hydrogen-on-demand technology (since they don’t use gaseous hydrogen) and cars that use clean-burning, zero emissions hydrogen peroxide to fuel the car.
The Hydrogen 500 will be a chance to spotlight hydrogen fuel cell cars, however, and will serve to put this kind of vehicle before the public’s eye and help garner public acceptance of this new technology. Perhaps as a side event to the main event, the Hydrogen 500 will also show off some of these other types of hydrogen technologies as well. This would serve to let the public know that more options are being worked on for a future transportation system based upon hydrogen and the field right now is wide open.