AGH UST students build hydrogen-fuelled racing car

photos by Wojciech Kobylański, Shoot Shoot

Light-weight, durable, and energy-saving. These are the features of the hydrogen-fuelled racing car made by the students of the AGH University of Science and Technology. The vehicle Hydrive 1 is another environmentally-friendly project of student special interest groups at AGH UST. 

The heart of the latest racing car made by the AGH UST students, which makes it unique in comparison to other projects, is a hydrogen fuel cell. An electric motor powered by a hydrogen fuel cell is a modern and environmentally-friendly source of energy. The cell does not produce any pollution during hydrogen combustion, and the only by-product resulting from the process is water. 

Apart from the above, the racing car is very light – it weighs only 30 kg, while its dimensions are 320 cm in length and 75 cm in width. It could be achieved by covering the body of the vehicle with a laminate made from carbon fibres. This results in lowering the weight in comparison to structures made of metal, while maintaining high durability of the vehicle. The car has a modular structure, and its particular parts have been made of light and durable aluminium alloys. On the other hand, the steering wheel of the vehicle has been made by 3D printing. 

The structure covered by paint of a low coefficient of friction combined with a streamlined shape of the car body ensures minimum air resistance. Thanks to this, the vehicle can reach a higher speed at a lower consumption of fuel. The maximum estimated speed of the car is 41 km/h. The students’ idea related to the induction motor is also quite original. The asynchronous motor is capable of regenerative braking, thanks to which the vehicle does not waste the accumulated energy when slowing down, but converts it into electrical power. 

The racing car has been built by the members of the Student Special Interest Group of Constructors “MechaniCAD” at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics. The aim of the team from AGH UST is not only perfecting their skills, but also the popularisation of knowledge related to environmentally-friendly solutions in transportation, as well as showing a real alternative to combustion engines, commonly used these days. 

The racing car Hydrive 1 has been developed since last year with the idea of taking part in the international competition Shell Eco-marathon in mind, which is one of the most innovative competitions for young constructors. Student teams from all over the world face the challenge of building and testing vehicles with the best possible energy conversion efficiency. Every year, the competition is entered by over 200 student teams from all over the world. The AGH UST team will be classified under the category “Prototype”, in which the most important criterion is achieving the maximum efficiency of the vehicle. Due to the pandemic, this year’s edition has been postponed until 2021.