INEOS CEO Sir Jim Ratcliffe has suggested Mercedes could begin to explore using hydrogen to power its Formula 1 cars as the electric revolution continues in the automotive industry.
While F1 internal combustion engines boast incredible thermal efficiency and are among the greenest in production, the sport and its power unit suppliers are in agreement there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Comparing the efficiency of the modern 1.6-litre V6 hybrid power units to the most advanced V8s used in F1, the current spec run at a 50 per cent efficiency level.
The most efficient V8 engine peaked at an estimated 29 per cent, meaning 71 per cent of the energy extracted was wasted.
While the FIA is trialling a 100 per cent sustainable fuel, created from bio-waste, Ratcliffe believes F1 should look into hydrogen power, with the only waste from this fuel being water.
“How relevant it will be in the longer term to Formula 1 I don’t know, but if you look at the hydrogen economy, Ola [Källenius - Daimler chairman] obviously has some super technology with hydrogen engines for the heavier vehicles in the Mercedes fleet," said Ratcliffe.
"At INEOS, we are probably the largest producer of hydrogen in Europe and we are a leader in the technology for the future of producing hydrogen from water which is an electrolysis procedure.
“You take the water molecule, you split it with electricity and INEOS is bigger in that game in Europe than anybody else, so there is a couple of hydrogen angles as well between Mercedes and INEOS.”
Through its Formula E team and EQ electric car range, Mercedes already has its foot in the electric vehicle market but, aside from its "heavier vehicles" has not experimented widely with hydrogen power.
Källenius added: “Research into lower carbon fuels or no-carbon fuels, synthetic fuels, will also play a role. If we go electric soon, we will have a very large part of our fleet being all-electric in 2030.
"Beyond [this], there will be a car park of hundreds of millions, a couple of billion vehicles that we also need to work on decarbonisation and Formula 1 can play a role in experimenting with lower carbon fuels."
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