Is liquid hydrogen an option for motor racing?

Liquid hydrogen motor sport

As part of the Le Mans Hydrogène event, the panel on competition lived up to its promise. As it is the case every year, there was a prestigious line-up. And for the first time, there was talk of liquid hydrogen for motor racing.

Antonin Ferri, Vice President in charge of future projects at ArianeGroup, had already mentioned this earlier. As another key speaker at the event, he had clearly indicated that the company founded by Airbus and Safran saw motor sport as a development opportunity, in addition to heavy mobility. The objective for the Group is not to enter competition, but to share its expertise in liquid hydrogen with the organisers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA (International Automobile Federation). This is a form of storage that ArianeGroup has been mastering for over 40 years with its Ariane rockets.

The first contact between ArianeGroup and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) was made as part of the Hydrogen Days in Rouen in 2022. The organiser of the 24-hour race is interested in liquid hydrogen, because it makes it possible to store more hydrogen while refuelling more quickly than with gaseous hydrogen. Pierre Fillon has been confronted with this form of storage on two occasions: at Le Mans, during the centenary edition, when the head of Toyota did a demonstration lap with his Corolla embarking a hydrogen engine and liquid hydrogen; and in Japan, at Fuji, where he was able to see under what conditions it was used on the circuit. In this respect, we learned that the Japanese authorities issue permits far more quickly than in France.

Liquid hydrogen: an ideal candidate for motor racing?

During the panel, Pierre-Jean Tardy from Alpine was the most enthusiastic on this subject. We even understood that liquid hydrogen seemed to be a particularly suitable candidate for Formula 1, just like the hydrogen engine. In fact, a study is currently being carried out on this subject with a view to 2030. As far as endurance racing is concerned, the solution is tempting. However, the ACO cannot afford to finance infrastructures for both gaseous and liquid hydrogen. “The manufacturers will have to make a choice,” said Pierre Fillon. He already had to include the combustion engine in addition to the fuel cell for the future hydrogen category. Regulatory specialist Bernard Niclot also pointed to a number of obstacles to be overcome. He also referred to the cost, which could run into tens of millions.

In 2026, when the hydrogen category is launched at Le Mans, the cars will be racing on gaseous hydrogen. Its use in liquid form still raises a number of questions, despite strong interest. It could take a few years.

Do you want to learn more about liquid hydrogen and motor racing? Then our latest 2 articles on these subjects should interest you. You can read them here and there.

Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Logan King 

Liquid hydrogen motor sport

If you liked it, share it

About the author

Logan King

Logan King

After an unusual career (3 years in the French army followed by a 3-year degree in Applied Foreign Languages), it was my passion for environmental issues that finally caught up with me and led me to join Seiya Consulting and H2 Today in June 2022. First as an end-of-study internship, then as Marketing & Communication Manager and translator at Hydrogen Today.

Our latest articles

interactive world map