Ligier, in collaboration with Bosch, has transformed its JS2 race car into the JS2 RH2, featuring a hydrogen-combustion powertrain.
This innovative technology, showcased at the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours event, demonstrates Ligier’s commitment to the future of motorsport and the potential of hydrogen as a fuel source.
The JS2 RH2 is based on the standard Ligier JS2 R race car, but with modifications to accommodate the 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged Ford ‘Cyclone’ V6 engine. Ligier claims that this powertrain delivers an impressive specific output and has made adaptations to the ignition and fuel injection systems to ensure fuel-efficient combustion with reduced nitrogen oxide emissions, particularly at partial load.
The hydrogen-powered V6 engine now produces 563bhp, a significant increase of 238bhp compared to the standard petrol unit. Ligier intends to further optimize its performance in the upcoming weeks, indicating the ongoing commitment to pushing the boundaries of this technology.
While specific weight figures have not been disclosed, the JS2 RH2 is expected to be slightly heavier than the conventional JS2, which weighs 1055kg. However, the car’s performance potential and sustainability aspects make it a compelling proposition for the future of motorsport.
Extensive testing of the JS2 RH2 has already taken place on German racetracks, and further trials are planned across Europe throughout the summer. Jacques Nicolet, president of Ligier Automotive, emphasizes that this car represents Ligier’s readiness to confront the challenges of tomorrow.
One of the key development challenges encountered during this project was ensuring smooth and uninterrupted combustion, particularly under the high demands and engine speeds experienced in racing. Ligier’s engineering team has successfully achieved this goal, enabling the car to perform optimally.
The hydrogen storage system of the JS2 RH2 utilizes high-pressure Hexagon Purus tanks integrated within the car’s carbon monocoque. These tanks operate at pressures up to 700 bar, while a sophisticated safety setup ensures the separation and protection of the hydrogen tank, engine compartment, and hydrogen regulation components. In the event of a failure, the car’s ventilation system removes hot gases, and an array of sensors detects any leaks in the system, maintaining safety at all times.
Jörg Ruger, president of Bosch Engineering, highlights the comprehensive safety measures implemented in the JS2 RH2, ranging from warning systems to complete shutdowns of individual line circuits or the entire system if necessary.
Although Ligier is not the first manufacturer to explore hydrogen-combustion engines in motorsport, with Toyota leading the way, this initiative is a significant step in demonstrating the feasibility and potential of hydrogen as a fuel source. Toyota has been actively testing hydrogen-powered vehicles in various racing series, such as the Super Taikyu race series in Japan and the WRC Rally Belgium.
The Ligier JS2 RH2 represents an exciting development in the evolution of motorsport, showcasing the application of hydrogen-combustion technology in a high-performance racing car. As the automotive industry continues to explore sustainable alternatives, hydrogen-powered vehicles have the potential to revolutionize the future of motorsport with their environmental benefits and technological advancements.