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How Le Mans is utilizing grape residues and hydrogen to drive a sustainable future

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Motorsport – and Le Mans particularly – has lengthy been a pioneering proving floor for brand new applied sciences. Nevertheless, because the world zeroes in on internet zero targets, decreasing carbon emissions in such a high-performance atmosphere for such an extended time period is a significant problem.

The race organisers are working with TotalEnergies to discover all of the choices and Romain Aubry, the corporate’s Technical Supervisor – who was born and grew up by the Mulsanne Straight – explains: “There are a lot of completely different applied sciences and we’re not right here to say that one is best than one other.

“Le Mans is a singular platform for us to check new vitality approaches and these embody 100% sustainable fuels that have been launched final 12 months; a battery answer we now have co-developed with Peugeot and Saft, our associates; and a hydrogen refilling answer for MissionH24 undertaking with huge plans for the long run.”

Electrical energy has been pioneered in Components E, the place TotalEnergies is an EV fluid provider, and has progressed from the early days when drivers needed to swap vehicles even briefly races on account of an absence of cost to the present stage the place vehicles can run to the end line and race distances are beginning to lengthen.

Electrical energy, nevertheless, just isn’t superb for all types of racing, because of the heavy weight of batteries. In endurance, the excessive speeds and lengthy stints push the load of batteries to the restrict and to match the present efficiency of the highest courses in a sustainable method requires a distinct method.

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Sustainable gasoline

Final 12 months, for the primary time, your complete Le Mans grid was provided with 100% licensed* sustainable gasoline and it will proceed in 2023. The gasoline, Excellium Racing 100, is made by TotalEnergies utilizing native wine residue biomass and guarantees to scale back CO2 emissions by at the very least 65%** over its lifecycle.

Aubry explains: “We take the biomass and remodel it into pure ethanol, then we remodel this into hydrocarbons utilizing a course of referred to as Alcohol-To-Gasoline (ATG). That is well-known and used worldwide and includes eradicating the oxygen atom from the compound to acquire pure hydrocarbon gasoline.

#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Paul Di Resta, Mikkel Jensen, Jean-Eric Vergne

Picture by: Nikolaz Godet

“The concept behind the undertaking was to make use of native uncooked materials and produce it regionally. Now we have the Loire Valley, the Rhone Valley, and even Bordeaux, so there are a whole lot of completely different potentialities to supply the wine residue and we mix the gasoline close by within the south of Lyon.”

The problem with sustainable fuels is that the method to develop the fuels makes use of vitality. Essentially the most environment friendly kind of gasoline supply for vehicles is electrical, because the battery can retailer vitality immediately from renewable sources like wind and photo voltaic with minimal losses. Nevertheless, the problem is their vitality density.

Hydrocarbon fuels are extraordinarily highly effective – offering 50 occasions extra energy than a battery for a similar weight. In distinction, biofuels or artificial fuels constituted of CO2 from the air and water, like these being pioneered by former F1 technical director Paddy Lowe, pack the identical punch as petrol, however achieve this in a extra sustainable method.

To make them, nevertheless, further vitality is required to energy the extra processing, and with that comes losses. The problem is making these processes extra environment friendly, in order that as a lot vitality as attainable from the unique renewable sources will get transferred into the gasoline.

“If you carry one megajoule of vitality, it’s important to think about how a lot vitality you have got left as soon as it will get to the wheels,” explains Aubry. “We have to look on the worldwide yield for all of the expertise and sustainable gasoline is one thing the place the yields are very attention-grabbing for racing. So too is hydrogen.”

Hydrogen undertaking

On that notice, plans for a hydrogen fuelled class at Le Mans are progressing quick. Mission24, a collaboration between the Le Mans organisers and Inexperienced GT, ran its H24 prototype within the ‘Highway to Le Mans’ races final 12 months and a full hydrogen class could possibly be launched as quickly as 2025.

The H24 runs on a gasoline cell, which mixes hydrogen gasoline from the onboard tank and oxygen from the ambiance to provide onboard electrical energy that powers the automotive. One of many greatest challenges to its introduction, nevertheless, is attaining an extended sufficient stint time to make it aggressive.

#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Paul Di Resta, Mikkel Jensen, Jean-Eric Vergne, Stoffel Vandorme

#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Paul Di Resta, Mikkel Jensen, Jean-Eric Vergne, Stoffel Vandorme

Picture by: Paul Foster

Due to a ground-breaking refilling station developed by TotalEnergies, that is coming nearer to actuality and Aubry explains: “When the automotive first did a demo lap at Spa in 2019, I bear in mind discussing with our motorsport Vice President about doing extra with it, greater than only a few laps.

“One of many predominant constraints was concerning the refilling as there have been no instruments to have the ability to refuel the automotive from monitor to trace. At Spa, it arrived with a full tank and will solely do few laps. To go racing, we wanted to consider find out how to refill the automotive within the pitlane and that’s how we began to become involved.”

Since then, TotalEnergies has been working with the undertaking’s companions to elongate the stint occasions. The important thing to attaining that is creating the expertise to feed hydrogen into the tank at excessive stress and maintain it at stress, in order that the automotive can carry extra, and the stint can run longer.

To realize that size of stint in an electrical automotive, particularly with the speeds on the Mulsanne Straight, would push battery weights in the direction of realms of impossibility, whereas the logistics of battery swapping to allow a number of stints in the identical automotive are additionally arduous to realize.

Hydrogen use, nevertheless, has to this point been restricted by filling station measurement and fuelling speeds. A regular refuelling station in Europe covers an enormous footprint and may solely fill at a price of 1kg per minute. Contemplating the H24 has 8kg within the tank – far smaller than a fully-blown Le Mans hypercar – that’s extraordinarily limiting.

“At these charges, you would wish roughly seven to eight minutes to refill the automotive, so that you already misplaced the race while you refilled for the primary time,” jokes Aubry, earlier than explaining that TotalEnergies has developed an answer that matches inside a transport container and may refuel far quicker than the forecourt commonplace.

“At the moment, we are able to refill at 2kg per minute, so we now have already halved it,” he provides. “We nonetheless want a whole lot of information on tank stress and temperature to optimise it, however from the simulations we now have, we’re assured we can refill in lower than two minutes by the point the hydrogen class arrives.”

#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Paul Di Resta, Mikkel Jensen, Jean-Eric Vergne

#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Paul Di Resta, Mikkel Jensen, Jean-Eric Vergne

Picture by: Eric Le Galliot

The H24 is predicated on an LMP3 chassis and may obtain a comparable 300km/h prime pace. The plan subsequent is to trial an LMP2 chassis then a hypercar profile, focusing on growing lap occasions and efficiency whereas attaining acceptable stint lengths when the brand new hydrogen class, which can be to an all-new design, is launched.

This continuation of innovation expands on a heritage for TotalEnergies that has run for many years, together with profitable with Renault underneath the Elf model within the Nineteen Seventies. Le Mans is a race which means quite a bit to the corporate, and because of its latest work, it now appears to be prepared for a shiny and absolutely sustainable future.

*Excellium Racing 100 is a licensed 100% sustainable product in response to the mass steadiness system utilized by a voluntary certification organisation permitted by the European Union.

**In step with the methodology supplied by the European RED II directive (2018/2001), Excellium Racing 100 can cut back greenhouse gasoline emissions by at the very least 65% in comparison with its fossil equal.



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