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Burkert fluid control system powers hydrogen electric race car

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article image The students with the Forze VI race car

Fluid technology specialist Burkert supplied a fluid control system for the fuel cell stack of the hydrogen electric race car ‘Forze VI’ designed by students of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

The hydrogen electric race car will attempt to break the record for fuel cell powered vehicles on the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife. The car will also be competing against petrol powered race cars to demonstrate the performance potential of green technology.

Different types of engines are used to power vehicles, with petrol, diesel, bio-fuels, natural gas, electricity and hydrogen being some of the choices available today. However, given the scarce fossil fuel resources, as well as cost and pollution factors, there is greater realisation of the importance of a sustainable solution for mobility. New, more sustainable systems have been developed over the recent years, including the hydrogen fuel cell car. Forze is considering hydrogen as one of the future solutions to power vehicles and other applications, even at home.

Since 2007, Forze has developed five cars, all ground-breaking and successful in terms of both technology and performance. Beginning with providing component support including a proportional solenoid valve, a pressure sensor and a controller for the Forze IV, Bürkert inspired the Forze team to bring the solution to another level.

Johann Gunnesch, engineer at the Systemhaus of Bürkert Fluid Control Systems in Ingelfingen develops custom highly specific system solutions for a wide range of applications requested by Bürkert customers throughout the world. The student team presented its flow plan for the fuel cell and explained the basic technical requirements.

Describing the function of the so-called low pressure block, Johann Gunnesch says that the hydrogen coming from the tank first passes a shut-off valve. An integrated pressure relief valve has to release the hydrogen in the event of a malfunction. A Type 2875 solenoid control valve meters the hydrogen for the fuel cell by controlling the required pressure in the fuel cell. A Type 8701 flow meter measures the supplied quantity of hydrogen and sends this data to the vehicle’s electronic control system. The pressure and temperature are monitored constantly by sensors that send their readings to the controller to enable the fuel cell to operate under optimal conditions at all times. There is a Type 6011 bleed valve, which can evacuate the entire system in case the vehicle is not driven.

The Forze VI represents a new era for the automotive racing world. With a car based on a Lotus 7 Type frame the chief engineer had the challenge to implement a 100 kW fuel cell and 190 kW boost power. The car also needed two 74-litre hydrogen tanks at 350 bar to feed the stacks together with a MassFlow meter up to 5,000 l/min air to provide enough oxygen.

Bürkert integrated a newly developed laminar flow element to achieve the Forze VI requirements while maintaining the light weight and compact design but with at least four times as much capacity.

Bürkert has designed the compact lightweight solution for Forze VI to achieve the fuel cell to power the 880kg car from 0 - 100 km/h in less than 4 seconds and reach over 210 km/h, leaving water as the only emission.

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