Le Mans 24/7 with the Semi Perpetuum Mobile? Fun with alternative energies

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With alternative fuels and energies quite popular in racing these days (Le Mans has an extra, non-points awarding, entry devoted to exactly this), Motorsport.com thought it would be fun to explore the ultimate alternative energy sourced racer.

There are two basic types of competition in motorsport: the competition between men and women driving cars, bikes and boats to extreme speeds and then there’s the competition between machines - the technological dispute in the relentless pursuit of higher performance, economy and endurance.

Although perhaps the former is initially more attractive to fans, the technological competition in recent years has gained traction, garnering headlines as manufacturers and teams wrestle with ideas to avoid using fossil fuels. After all, motorsport is all about challenges, and there’s no bigger challenge than making unproven, cutting-edge technologies work in a racecar.

DeltaWing Racing Cars DeltaWing LM12 Elan is racing now in ALMS.
DeltaWing Racing Cars DeltaWing LM12 Elan is racing now in ALMS.

Photo by: Richard Sloop

In an attempt to solve this particular problem, the editorial team at Motorsport.com brings a concept car that combines some of the main competing green technologies in 2013: the 24 Hours of Le Mans, American Le Mans Series and the World Endurance Championship.

Our car concept is actually a hybrid (excuse the pun) of competing technologies. We combined part by part in order to create a new and different racecar that we branded with the Latin name of “Semi Perpetuum Mobile” or SPM-001. The reason for this name will be be explained in the description of the concepts applied in the project.

Audi R18 e-tron quattro the current big winner with alternative energy.
Audi R18 e-tron quattro the current big winner with alternative energy.

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

A first look at the SPM-001 and you’ll recognize the aerodynamics of the DeltaWing where we took the view that there is room for innovation in the aerodynamic design of racecars, as building materials get lighter and stronger. The DeltaWing took a huge step down that path.

Then we take from the GreenGT H2, which will run for the first time in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, which feeds its 3 electric motors - extracted from Audi R18 e-trom quatro - with a fuel-cell fueled by hydrogen contained in their wing tanks.

GreenGT H2, Hydrogen fueling a fuel-cell that produce electricity, will be in the next Le Mans 24H
GreenGT H2, Hydrogen fueling a fuel-cell that produce electricity, will be in the next Le Mans 24H

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

The energy recovery system, KERS, feeds a super capacitor that was removed from the Toyota TS030 HYBRID. Whenever the driver uses the brakes, the fabulous amount of electric energy accumulated in fractions of seconds by the super capacitor is not used to generate an additional speed pulse in the output of turns, as often happens when using the KERS, this energy is used to feed a process of hydrolysis applied to the water which is produced by the fuel-cell combining oxygen with hydrogen to generate electricity.

Toyota TS030 HYBRID, the super-capacitor is inside.
Toyota TS030 HYBRID, the super-capacitor is inside.

Photo by: Toyota Racing

This water ends up serving to extract more hydrogen to be used again in the fuel-cell system, dramatically increasing the autonomy of our concept car.

With no current limit to the capacity of the electric motors (keep feeding them electricity), our car would potentially have a “semi” perpetually moving drivetrain. And as any Le Mans-winning team would attest to, the amount of time not spent in the pits refueling is time gained on the track. Simply put, the less time you spend on pitlane, the more likely you are to win an endurance race.

Special thanks goes to Brazilian/American inventor João Canali, for the digital mockup of the SPM-001, and originator of the suggested concept. He is fully aware that insane asylums are full of inventors of perpetual motion schemes, therefore, took care to add “semi” in the name of the project, since the car does not want to violate the second law of thermodynamics.

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About this article
Series LEMANS , ALMS , ELMS , WEC
Article type Special feature
Tags alms, audi, deltawing, elms, greengt, lemans, toyota, wec