Four teams of students studying the MSc Advanced Motorsport Engineering at Cranfield are designing a hydrogen-powered sports racing car as part of their course.

The students have been tasked with designing a 2-seat, low-cost hydrogen-powered sports-racing prototype and will use the brand new Radical RXC as an example of best current practice.

The project has been designed in anticipation of a hydrogen economy and with the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) Technology Road Map in mind. The work is supported by Radical Sportscars, Aerocom Metals and several other organisations.

Phil Abbott, Managing Director of Radical Sportscars, said: “We are very pleased to be able to support a project such as this, both to progress the development of future engineers and to investigate new forms of technology, particularly in the field that addresses environmental concerns. We will be watching their progress with interest.”

The project requires close integration between powertrain modelling and new chassis design – linking real data from Radical and Ford Ecoboost engines with new materials and structural improvements. Students are designing and undertaking their own physical tests of materials and current car components to validate their simulations. On top of this the solutions must consider cost and safety and still perform well.

The students will use a Radical RXC during the three month project and benefit from the key facilities at Cranfield such as FIA accredited Cranfield Impact Centre. Throughout the group design project phase the Cranfield students will have access to a number of motorsport practitioners who will run sessions for the students. At the conclusion of the project the four prototypes will run simulated laps of Silverstone National Circuit and the Cadwell Park full circuit with support from Cranfield Motorsport Simulation.

Jack Chilvers, a current student on the course, said: “The conversion of Radical’s RXC sports car to hydrogen fuel provides an incredibly interesting and challenging task. The nature of the RXCs bodywork, which provides the best aerodynamic performance, makes the inclusion of on-board hydrogen stores less than straightforward. Over the coming weeks, I have no doubt that out-of-the-box thinking will have to be employed to provide a successful solution to this project!”

Notes for editors

The student teams will present their findings to an industry audience at Cranfield University on 14 May 2014. Register to attend with Jess Greenwood

This project is kindly supported by the following organisations:

  • Radical Sportscars
  • Silverstone Circuits Ltd
  • Racecar Engineering
  • Reynard
  • Cranfield Motorsport Simulation
  • Cranfield Impact Centre
  • Aerocom Metals
  • Altair
  • AVL Boost
  • GRM Consulting

Read current student Jack Chilvers’ blog on the Racecar Engineering website.

About Radical Sportscars

Radical Sportscars is one of the world’s leading sports prototype manufacturers, selling cars to both road and race drivers across the world. Through a network of nearly 20 international distributors, Radical offers a range of cars, from the driving enthusiast to the professional racer. From the cost effective SR1 with its Le Mans-inspired styling, to the awesome V8-engined SR8, all offer Radical’s unique blend of high performance driving thrills and ease of ownership.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

Transport Systems at Cranfield

Cranfield has over 50 years’ experience in transport, including the aviation, automotive, motorsport, military and marine sectors.

We are the only university in Europe to own and run an airport and to have airline status.

Our education and award-winning research covers all modes of vehicles and transport across technology, engineering and management, including sustainable transport and intelligent mobility.

In an increasingly interconnected world, we specialise in understanding the whole environment in which transport operates: the vehicles, infrastructure, businesses and logistics, as well as the human aspects of operating, managing and using transport.

Our world-class facilities include high-performance wind tunnels, an off-road vehicle dynamics facility, a crash impact test centre (one of just three FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) approved test centres in the world) and our Accident Investigation Laboratory, which is dedicated to our work in aviation, marine and rail safety and the only accident investigation laboratory of its type outside the United States. We were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our world-leading work in aviation safety through research and training in air accident investigation in 2011.

Completed in 2017, our latest facility, the Multi-User Environment for Autonomous Vehicle Innovation, is a £19 million ‘smart’ roadway test environment for the development of intelligent and autonomous vehicles, making it a UK first. It includes the associated systems needed to integrate emerging technologies into our day-to-day lives.

A new £65 million Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre will also be built at Cranfield to spearhead the UK’s research into digital aviation technology, and a new state-of-the-art digital control tower, which replicates what can be seen through the windows of a traditional air traffic control tower via a live feed using HD cameras and sensors, is being installed at Cranfield Airport.