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Fuel Cells

Most of the recent technological interest in alternative energy has been directed towards either hybrid systems or full electric vehicles. Not only are these the two main directions of development in the passenger vehicle market outside of conventionally powered cars, these technologies also represent the predominant developments in racing in terms of embracing environmentally friendly technologies. Whatever the arguments about the true environmental impact and economic viability of cars...

Electric motors

Although many racing series restrict engine performance by imposing intake air restrictors, such as Formula Three or the various endurance series and the Le Mans race, others are a fixed maximum displacement, such as MotoGP, NASCAR and Formula One. The race for greater power means a relentless drive for higher engine speeds. Fixed torque (assuming a certain level of volumetric efficiency and natural aspiration), thanks to fixed displacement, means that increased power comes about through...

Why hybrids?

For a number of years, there have been hybrid roadcars available. Beloved of celebrities wanting to cultivate a tree-hugging image, they can't be said however to have captured the public's imagination. Technology pundits had predicted a long transition from a production passenger car market dominated by internal combustion engines to one dominated by electric vehicles, via increasingly 'hybridised' vehicles. In fact, without hybrids ever having become very popular, the number...


Unless you have been living on the Moon for the past 40 years, the news stories about the scarcity of oil - there are always "only 25 years' worth" of it left - and global warming can't have escaped your notice. The imperative to do more work while using up less of the Earth's fossil fuels has given us ever more efficient engines for our roadcars, and racing is going the same way. A great deal of press coverage has been given to alcohol fuels, and they are fast becoming...

Losses in electric motors

In designing or developing a race engine, we traditionally spend a lot of time, effort and money on mitigating frictional losses. We try to minimise heat rejection to oil and water. Efficiency equals performance, so we try to make the engine as efficient as we can; we want as much of the energy contained in the fuel as possible to be converted to kinetic energy. Much is made of the advantages that electric hybrid systems will bring to production vehicles and to racing. Pure electric racing...