Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Green car sets speed record

15.11.2004


When the non-profit organisation IdéeVerte Compétition decided to create a ’green’ racing car, they turned to space technology to make it safer. Running on liquefied petroleum gas, one of the least polluting fuels, and lubricated with sunflower oil, the car is protected against fire hazards by space materials. ’Green’ does not have to mean slow - last week the car set a new speed record of 315 km/h.

"The car of the future will have to respect the environment. This is the only way to create a sustainable transportation system in our world," says Alain Lebrun, President of the IdéeVerte Compétition. "Today there are many new technologies available which have low impact on the environment. We also have more sustainable energy sources available such as liquid natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), biofuels, hydrogen and fuel-cells.

"What better way to raise public awareness than putting them to the best test of all: developing a racing car?" asks Lebrun. "The racing track is the ultimate laboratory and also a fantastic place to display the ‘green’ car technology to come."



Green idea for racing

In 1993 the IdéeVerte Compétition was founded as a non-profit organisation made up of independent engineers and technicians concerned about the environment and the pollution generated by today’s cars. As motor sport enthusiasts, the objective was to create a non-polluting racing car.

The head of ESA’s Technology Transfer and Promotion Office (TTP) Pierre Brisson explains, "in 2002 we decided to support the project by making available advanced space technologies. We have always been keen to support programmes related to environmental protection, especially in the motor field and, together with the IdéeVerte racing team, we identified several space technologies to help them improve safety, in particular to reduce the fire risk."

Space technologies at work

Altogether four technologies from space programmes are used in the racing car to improve overall safety by reducing the risk of fire and its effects. "The primary fire hazard in an LPG fuelled high-performing racing car such as this is the possibility that heat from the engine and the exhaust will ignite parts of the car. Therefore, the first thing we did was to install very good heat insulation material designed for ESA’s Ariane launchers," explains Nicolas Masson from Bertin Technologies. Bertin Technologies, part of ESA’s TTP network of technology brokers, has participated in bringing together the different industrial partners.

To reduce heat transmission from the 1000° C hot primary exhaust system to the engine area, the exhaust system is insulated with a heat wrapping material. This prevents the engine over heating and reduces the risk of igniting a gas leak. In addition, this helps to retain the heat in the exhaust system thus increasing the horsepower. The thermal wrapping for the exhaust system is a combination of standard solutions used in motor racing enhanced with material developed for the European Ariane launcher.

Notes Nicolas Masson, "it would also be a good idea to use this insulation technology around a standard exhaust system on petrol-driven cars, as the catalytic converter would heat up more quickly and operate better".

To protect the LPG fuel tank, another heat insulation technology was chosen: a special thermal, shield developed for the engines used by the Ariane launchers. In case of engine fire, this shield blocks the heat transmission so well that the fire must burn for at least 45 minutes before the tank is heated to a level where the pressure will open the safety valve. This gives plenty of time for the fire extinguishers, also originating from space developments, to put the fire out.

Nicolas Masson emphasizes that "without the Ariane thermal shield the fire would heat the fuel tank so fast that the pressure would open the safety valves within five minutes and the gas that escaped would feed the fire with potentially catastrophic results. This technique could be applied right away to cars that run on LPG to make them safer".

Space technology has also been used for the LPG fuel tank and the fire extinguishers. The fuel tank is made of a special lightweight titanium developed by aerospace engineers as it withstands shock better than steel. The technology used for the three fire extinguishers on the car comes from the Russian launchers and is similar to the pyrotechnical engines used in the airbags installed in today’s cars. These can be activated either manually by the driver or automatically by a security control unit connected to sensors that measure engine temperature, fire and escaping gasses.

Even to determine the speed the car turns to ESA technology. The IdéeVerte car carries on board a V-Box, an EGNOS-compliant tracking system from the Race Logic Company. This box uses the EGNOS signal to determine the speed, acceleration and position of the car in real-time.

Pierre Brisson | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Did you know that the wrapping of Easter eggs benefits from specialty light sources?
13.04.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH

nachricht To e-, or not to e-, the question for the exotic 'Si-III' phase of silicon
05.04.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA examines newly formed Tropical Depression 3W in 3-D

26.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering

26.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>