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Racing with zero emissions - Building the fastest hydrogen car in the world

Partnership with Dutch student team Forze Hydrogen Racing aims to optimise fluid control systems for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and promote sustainable transportation solutions.

The Forze IX, which the team is developing to be the fastest hydrogen car in the world.

The Forze IX, which the team is developing to be the fastest hydrogen car in the world

With a team of more than 60 student volunteers, Forze Hydrogen Racing aims to promote hydrogen as the sustainable fuel of the future by showing its potential in racing. Ever since its founding in 2007, Forze has been building hydrogen racing cars that push the boundaries of technological possibilities, with each generation being an improvement.

Their efforts to push the boundaries of clean energy and motorsports have been made possible through their collaboration with their long-time partner, Bürkert, who has been with Forze ever since the development of the Forze IV in 2012.

Racing on Hydrogen

Unlike traditional combustion engines, hydrogen fuel cells do not produce harmful emissions, making them a much cleaner alternative for powering vehicles and other applications. Additionally, hydrogen fuel cells can produce electricity with much higher efficiency than traditional combustion engines, reducing our overall energy consumption. With advancements in fuel cell technology, hydrogen has the potential to become a widely adopted energy source, helping to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and combat climate change. Furthermore, hydrogen fuel cell technology can be used in various sectors, including transportation, manufacturing, and energy production, making it a versatile and practical solution to our energy needs.

Forze Hydrogen Racing aims to accelerate technological development by inspiring industry-leading companies, governing bodies and members of the general public. By applying the technology to a race car, Forze makes hydrogen tangible and exciting.

“Forze shows that you can truly realise dreams when you put all your effort into them, even with small budgets.”

Johann Gunnesch, Ingenieur Bürkert Systemhaus

Collaborating with Bürkert

Bürkert first came into contact with Forze during the building phase of the Forze VI, the world's first full-size hydrogen race car. Forze was in need of a proportional valve for the hydrogen flow and pressure regulation to the fuel cell. Bürkert was able to supply this valve but was immediately interested in other ways both parties could collaborate. Johann Gunnesch has been the main contact person for Forze’s engineers ever since the beginning of the partnership: “We started collaborating with Forze because of the incredible enthusiasm and motivation that a group of students brought to the table. It shows that you can truly realise dreams when you put all your effort into them, even with small budgets. Because of Bürkert’s activities in the area of hydrogen and fuel cell applications combined with an interest in racing, it really made sense for us to start this partnership”.

Mass flow meters inside a test setup for the Forze IX

Mass flow meters inside a test setup for the Forze IX

Bürkert helps Forze with the supply of fluid control system components, such as pressure- and temperature sensors, and control valves. Especially when testing subsystems, control systems are vital. Bürkert is able to supply components for a range of testing setups Forze uses. Next to this, Bürkert assists Forze with technical consultancy and co-designs components. They help with the evaluation of ejector systems and the integration of diverse manifolds, adapters, valves and sensors. “Throughout the years, I have closely collaborated with Forze’s engineers. We have come across many challenging issues but we were always able to solve them, with a wide knowledge exchange coming into play”, Gunnesch adds.

These days, Bürkert components can be found throughout the entire car. The Forze IX features numerous sensors and control valves in the fuel cell- and cooling systems. The extremely diverse 8316 pressure sensor can be found measuring air pressure before and after the fuel cell, at the water separator and at the turbo compressor. It also measures hydrogen pressure in the low-pressure box, ejector and fuel cell, and is used in all the cooling cycles of the car.

The low pressure block of the Forze VIII

The low pressure block of the Forze VIII

The low-pressure boxes are some of the most innovative projects to come out of the partnership between Bürkert and Forze. Chief Fuel Cell & Powertrain Dieter Blank explains: “A low-pressure box is a combination of components that measure and regulate the hydrogen from the storage tanks towards the fuel cell stack. Next to measuring and regulating the hydrogen, the LPB also acts as a safety device to prevent any excessive pressures in the anode (hydrogen) side to prevent damage to the fuel cell stack membranes. Lastly, the LPB helps to keep the anode side pressurised when the fuel cell stack is not used”.

At the core of this solution lies the proportional valve, which has several on/off relief valves, and pressure- and temperature sensors attached to it. These come together on a manifold that is designed to be as close to the fuel cell as possible. The focus of the project lies on the reduction of weight, tubing and interfaces.

The first iteration of the low-pressure box already appeared at the beginning of the collaboration, during the development of the Forze VI. Now, almost 10 years later, the 5th iteration of the low-pressure box can be found in the Forze IX, the team’s most ambitious car to date.

“We are incredibly thankful for the support of Bürkert. Thanks to people like Johann, we can truly excel at what we do.”

Dieter Blank, Chief Fuel Cell & Powertrain at Forze

The ejector: a unique passive recirculation system that can be found inside the Forze IX.

The ejector: a unique passive recirculation system that can be found inside the Forze IX

Next to the low-pressure box, Bürkert has helped with the hydrogen recirculation system. An example is the ejector, a unique passive recirculation system, one of many projects demonstrating the innovativeness of the collaboration. Here, many of Bürkert’s controllers are used. With the development of the Forze IX, which aims to become the fastest hydrogen car in the world, Bürkert continues to support Forze Hydrogen Racing in promoting hydrogen technology.

With design projects such as the low-pressure box and the recirculation system, both parties continue to innovate with hydrogen and push the boundaries of the technology.




Type 8316

Pressure measuring device

Type 8316
  • Ceramic/thick film measuring cell
  • 2-wire version for 4...20 mA output
  • Compact, stable construction for the highest operational reliability

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