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Formula One Racing Headed to Hybrids

Last week, Max Moseley, the head of the FIA (the organization that governs world Formula One racing) described in a press conference the organization’s intention to head toward hybrid technology for future years.

Chris Ellis, the UK motor racing correspondent for EV World, analyzes the announcement and finds the technology implications extremely encouraging for the auto industry as a whole:

The central message is that the most technically advanced and heavily-funded form of motor sport will now be obliged to focus on fuel economy, one of the key issues that concern ordinary drivers. Consequently, Formula One will become relevant and useful again, rather than just an advanced form of horse racing.

What Moseley described in his press conference was energy recovery and storage technologies that could provide a burst of energy for overtaking.

What we have in mind is this: that every car can be fitted with equipment, which must weigh no more than 20 kilos and will store energy when the car brakes and enable the energy to be used when the car accelerates again. The technology we would like in that 20-kilo piece of equipment will be completely free, so that people can choose whether they want a hydraulic, inertia or electrical system, or some other technology or branch of those technologies.

This is quite clearly something that is and will be developed for the road and all the major manufacturers are working on different systems at this time. By allowing it in F1 we will be accelerating its introduction. We’d like to do that for 2009 but must sort out the detail of the regulation with the teams and manufacturers. This will be a technology that everyone can understand, the public can understand and it will be directly relevant to road cars and a technology for the future of road cars.

—Max Mosley

Standing further back, consider this. Almost any mechanical engineer (and most others!) on the planet would jump at the chance of joining a Formula One team. It’s the most competitive and prestigious engineering activity of all, beating aerospace and computing hands down. Now the FIA has told these engineers to stop playing around and to concentrate on doing something useful, which is precisely what most engineers prefer doing. The Directors of R&D in the major auto companies are going to realize, once they’ve recovered from the shock, that they now have the awesome talents of their racing divisions aimed at one of their key corporate objectives. The clever ones will insist that Racing is still paid for by Marketing, but will also make sure that technology transfer is pursued aggressively. The pace of hybrid development will then accelerate as only a race car can.

—Chris Ellis

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Comments

Mark A

Yes yes yes yes thanks thanks thanks Max!!! I have been advocation this for a while now, although I still want to see battery powered cars at some point. This is an interim step. There is nothing like racing to bring and develop new technologies and improvements to fruition. I sent emails to the open wheel racing series in the USA, in hoping they would do this sort of thing. I also encouraged them to do it before nascar.

Formula One, in making this announcement, may be renewing my faith in racing. I have been getting jaded, especially with nascar, in their policies and politics. Racing should always relate to and improve all our road going vehicles. This is great news for all.

Joseph Willemssen

The central message is that the most technically advanced and heavily-funded form of motor sport will now be obliged to focus on fuel economy, one of the key issues that concern ordinary drivers. Consequently, Formula One will become relevant and useful again, rather than just an advanced form of horse racing.

That's kind of a silly thing to say.

One, whether race cars get better mileage or not is not going to make any meaningul impact on overall petroleum consumption.

Two, the sport has always been attuned to fuel economy since it has an effect on how often a car needs to stop.

Three, it's condescending and strange to call it "an advanced form of horse racing". It's a sport. It's frivolous entertainment. Big deal. It's not daily life.

Rafael Seidl

Note that F1 cars are currently limited to 550kg, of which about 40kg is a tungsten plate that may be mounted in various locations to fine-tune the axle loading for a given race course. The 20kg mentioned above is presumably additional weight. It would make sense to design the energy recuperation system such that it can doubles as ballast instead of the tungsten slab.

Note that pneumatic recuperation, e.g.

http://www.engineer.ucla.edu/stories/2003/hybrid.htm
http://www.all4engineers.com/index.php;site=a4e/lng=en/do=show/alloc=3/id=932

stores the brake energy as compressed air. In the case of an F1 car, the air would be accumulated at elevated pressure and temperatures during braking manoeuvres. The accumulator plenum would be located immediately behind the airbox and above the engine.

Once the accumulator is full or the driver takes his foot off the brake pedal, the air box inlet would be closed quickly (butterfly valve) and the compressed air allowed to flood the air box volume, cooling down in the process. The pressure in the air box would be controlled to e.g. 2 bar absolute (depending on design) for as long as possible. Once the accumulator empties and the pressure in the air box drops below a speed-dependent threshold, the air box inlet is re-opened. The whole process of recuperation and recovery would be over in a matter of seconds, i.e. neither the accumulator nor the airbox would ever be exposed to elevated pressure or temperature for an extended period of time.

The hardest part would be designing intake and exhaust manifolds that permit pneumatic recuperation via suitable switchable valves without compromising available power in regular operation.

Other power-centric hybrid concepts (hydraulic or supercap, probably not battery) permit greater flexibiity but are very hard to implement with such a tight weight constraint.

Bud Johns

Joseph, lemme enlighten you a bit. What Max means is every car will be allowed an agreed upon amount of fuel for a race, and that's it. The car that gets the most bang per gallon is the fastest!! Formula 1 is advanced beyond most people's wildest dreams, when they start working on energy recovery from braking, Ultra Capacitors, and Lord knows what else, it will benefit us all.

NBK-Boston

Of course an increase in efficiency of a couple of dozen race cars will have no meaningful effect on global pollution. And of course auto racing is a spectator sport and merely a form of entertainment.

The point of the article, which was very explicit, was that by opening racing to hybrid technologies, more effort would be put into experimenting with and designing new hybrid solutions. This increase in effort would lead to innovative new solutions, which then make their way down to the commercial level. Since racing is very rule constrained, no effort will be expended by race-car teams on hybrid systems until they know that they will be allowed to use them in competition.

Personally, I don't know enough about the major automakers to guess at how important this "trickle-down-innovation" effect is likely to be. One other effect that people like to mention that incorporating hybrid technologies into high performance vehicles will increase the profile and presige of hybrids. Again, I'm no pollster, so I don't know enough to guess at how important that element will be.

All the same, I see little downside to this development, so good for them. I'm not convinced that this will divert critical engineering talent away from other, more important areas, to the extent that it will have an actual effect on the world at large.

Joseph Willemssen

Joseph, lemme enlighten you a bit. What Max means is every car will be allowed an agreed upon amount of fuel for a race, and that's it. The car that gets the most bang per gallon is the fastest!!

Is that tongue-in-cheek, or are you serious?

================

The point of the article, which was very explicit, was that by opening racing to hybrid technologies, more effort would be put into experimenting with and designing new hybrid solutions. This increase in effort would lead to innovative new solutions, which then make their way down to the commercial level.

I'm aware of that. I just found Mr. Ellis' specific comment to be absurd.

tom deplume

20 kg is less than 50 pounds. Are you sure an extra zero was left off? Any electric, hydraulic, or pneumatic motor of enough power to make a difference would weigh much more than 50 pounds.

Rafael Seidl

Tom -

I think 20 kg was correct. We're not talking PHEV here :-)

Btw, the beauty of pneumatic hybridization is that you don't need a second motor at all, since the ICE is already a glorified air pump. If transient supercharging can be made to work as I outlined above, the FIA might need to limit engine power yet further by reducing cylinder count from currently 8 to just 6 (the number used during the turbo era). Reducing total displacement is how you achieve weight savings and fuel economy.

JN2

Chris Ellis just happens to be the inventor of the Powerbeam (TM?) flywheel. I suspect Chris would like the Powerbeam to be one of the options in the FIA's 'surge power unit' (which is indeed limited to 20kg or 44lbs).

Mark A

What Joseph may be missing here is the automakers tie, to the teams whixh race in formula one. Unlike nascar, or the open wheel series in the US, the automakers have a direct tie to the teams. Toyota, to the toyota teams, Mercedes, BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Renault, etc. Ford used to be, is Jaguar still in?

The point is that what works in Formula racing has a better chance of trickling back to the automaker. That makes it more relevant than most other forms of racing. Nascar, IRL, nhra etc, in the US are pure spectator entertainment and have very little relevance in todays evolving automotive landscape.

I am throwing out all my nascar stuff and buying Formula One stuff!

Joseph Willemssen

What Joseph may be missing here is the automakers tie, to the teams whixh race in formula one.

Uh, no, once again, I'm not missing that.

Roger Pham

Rafael--Please kindly explain how does the poppet valve works in the presence of the working pressure stored from recuperative breaking. The poppet valve can only withstand high pressure from only one direction, that generated during compression and combustion within the cylinder. Pressure from the other direction as would from the airpressure compartment cannot be contained by the poppet valve. Therefore, another set of very fast-acting valve, for example, spool valve as used in steam engine, would be necessary to connect the airpressure chamber to the engine intake port. Steam engine turns at~600-1000rpm. Can this spool valve handle the 10,000 rpm of the F1 engine? Furthermore, as stated in the link you provided, a entirely novel set of electrical camless poppet valves must be provided in order to 1) double the frequency of the intake and exhaust valve, from opening-closing every other revolution in the four-stroke power cycle to opening-closing with every revolution in the air-compressing cycle when no combustion occur, 2) greatly shortening the opening duration of the exhaust valve during the air-compressing cycle in order to maintain high pressure of the compressed exhaust air 3) integrating the opening of airpressure chamber into the engine power-producing cycle (how? In a street car, you probably will use compressed air to accelerate the vehicle, and then, when compressed air is used up, then you inject the fuel to start the four-stroke cycle. But in a F1 car which must accelerate at full throttle every time, how do you use the stored air pressure? Do you close the engine air intake completely to create a vacuum in the intake stroke, hence no work expenditure in the compression stroke, and when the piston is near TDC, then you will inject both compressed air and fuel, and thus recovering more net power in the power stroke because no work was expended during the compression stroke? This will further mean direct cylinder fuel injection instead of engine port fuel injection, but we still have the problem of adequate air-fuel mixture when both air and fuel are combined at such short notice)
Therefore, although air pressure as storage is a fascinating concept, a lot of questions remained to be answered, and a lot of development work will be required. For example, at the 10,000-rpm speed of F1 engines, camless electric valve actuation would be no easy task, and would require a lot of electrical power, not to mention the weight of the electromagnet coils and cobalt-samatarium core.

Roger Pham

Continue from previous posting: Re. pneumatic hybrid
Furthermore, on the compressing stroke of the piston, the compressed air will exit the exhaust poppet valve and enter another valve leading into the compressed air storage chamber. However, the dead volume between the poppet exhaust valve and the spool valve of the compressed air storage will greatly limit the pressure achievable in the compressed air storage, meaning large volume will be required, the volume not availble in a tightly packed F1 car. If one will discard the poppet valves altogether and use spool valves instead, then one would run into the problem of heat damage and carbon sticking of the spool valve during engine combustion. Ceramic spool valves would be a possibility, and the high heat will burn off carbon deposit and ceramic is self-lubricating at high temp, but at 10,000+ engine rpm, can brittle ceramic withstand such repetitive accelerating stress?

Roger Pham

On the other hand, UltraCap Electric hybrid may not be as heavy as it seems. 20 kg means that you have 44lbs to play with. Add another 20 lbs from the engine fly wheel and turning it into an IMA (Honda's Integrated Motor Assist) and you now have 64 lbs to play with. Reduce the size of the entire braking system, now that you have regenerative braking by electric motors, and that may buy you another 20-30 lbs to play with. So now, you have 84-94 lbs to play with. Let's say that you'll put 40-50 lbs of that 84-94lbs total into the electric motors/ regenerator, and 20 lbs is already in the IMA, thus leaving you with ~30 lbs of motor weight to be distributed in each wheel hubs, thus only ~8lbs of additional spinning weight in each wheel, hardly enough rotational mass to create wheel gyroscopic instability. Let's say that you are super-duper motor-permanent magnets to get 3hp/lbs power-to-weight ratio, so 50lbs worth of motor will buy you ~150 hp of additional horsepower for acceleration. That's just great, because, now, you can downsize your engine a little bit to buy more hybrid power train weight to play with. Assuming you super-duper F1 engine has a power to weight ratio of about 4:1, and so, that 150 hp of additional electric power will get you another ~40lbs additional to play with.
THe braking system and engine downsizing weight saving is with the assumption that the F1 rule for hybrid shall be written such that a hybrid can only weigh 20 kg MORE than the 550 kg weight limit of a non-hybrid, WITHOUT specifying how much all hybrid components are allowed to weigh, because that would be like micro-management and that will inhibit creativity. Furthermore, some components will function with both the hybrid system and non-hybrid system. So, it would be an accounting and mechanical nightmare to have to take out all the car's components, deciding which belong to the hybrid system and what not, weigh all of the hybrid components...and reassemble each hybrid car before each race...what a nightmare. It would be a lot easier to just put the whole car on the scale, and allow 20kg more weight for the hybrid car.

Roger Pham

Oh, and I forgot, an engine downsizing will mean transmission downsizing also, since your electric motors will handle a lot of the torque previously from the transmission and the differential. So, you'll have even more hybrid powertrain wt. to play with. In a vehicle, the weight of one component will affect the weights of every other components. If the rule will be revised to instead of allowing 550kg empty weight limit, but to allow a fixed gross weight limit INCLUDING FUEL, as judged by the size of the fuel bladders, and since the hybrid will save a lot of fuel weight, then you will have even more weight to play with for the hybrid version, and that's only fair.

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