MissionH24, a project to develop and race a hydrogen-powered car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has unveiled its new prototype. The car builds on the previous technological advancements from the H24 and LMPH2G prototypes, and is receiving support from the ACO’s project partners TotalEnergies, Michelin, Symbio, Plastic Omnium, Richard Mille, Dietsmann and Essilor.
According to the MissionH24 team, key strides have already been made. Research, development, verification and burn-in testing of the new power unit (hydrogen cell system, tanks, electric motors, battery, etc.) on laboratory cars is now complete. Thus, the focus is now shifting to producing the first car and reaching its stated performance target, which is for it to be “among the top GT3 entries”.
The new prototype, which hasn’t yet been named, will be equipped with a hydrogen cell system from Symbio, using “next-gen” multi-stack technology. The fuel cell is made up of plates and membranes in which an electrochemical reaction takes place producing electricity, heat and water. Its maximum net power output is 300 kW, meaning its power density will be 50 per cent greater than the system used on the previous-gen H24.
Crucially, progress has been made with regard to the weight of the onboard H2 tank. Plastic Omnium, a partner of the ACO for the supply of tanks for hydrogen competition cars, has developed storage systems and contributed to their development and installation in the vehicle. The car holds two tanks which store 7.8 kg (3.9 x2) of hydrogen at 700 bars for a total weight of around 100kg. The target is for the car to be able to complete 25-30 minute stints on track and to be refulled using infrastructure at the Circuit de la Sarthe which is being developed by the ACO and TotalEnergies for the forthcoming H2 category.
These tanks are certified according to the international standard ECE R134 which guarantees compliance with the most stringent specifications on the safety regulations (including the FIA’s) for the storage of gaseous hydrogen.
As for its motor, this new prototype houses a single high-performance electric motor which drives the rear wheels, a step forward from the H24 prototype which utilises two. The motor’s maximum power output is 650 kW (872 hp), and its target weight is 30kg, which would make it 18 kilograms lighter than the H24’s current motors.
The chassis, like its predecessors, is being supplied by ADESS, and is expected to be significantly lighter (targeting 1300 kg vs. 1450 kg for the H24), narrower and better packaged than the older models.
The roadmap for the car’s development was also laid out at today’s conference. By next March the general design of the new prototype is expected to be finalised ahead of the presentation of a mock-up in June. Power unit assembly and bench testing will then commence from October ahead of its first phase of circuit testing which is expected to take place from January 2025.
The car will be named by a member of the public via a social media competition. The name chosen will be revealed on November 13th. The MissionH24 project is a significant step forward in the development of hydrogen-powered racing cars. The car’s performance targets are ambitious, but if achieved, would demonstrate the potential of hydrogen technology to compete at the highest level of motorsport.