August 23, 2008 / 3:54 PM / in 10 years

Hydrogen-powered cars meet in championship race

ROTTERDAM (Reuters) - Six international university teams competed in the Dutch city of Rotterdam on Saturday in what was billed as a motor racing championship for hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The “Formula Zero” series aims to demonstrate the viability of zero-emission fuel cell technology, even if the average speeds of around 50 kph (32 mph) were more akin to those of a cycle race than of Formula One.

The karts ran individual timed laps rather than racing directly against each other on the 550-metre (600-yard) circuit, because of the risks to car and driver from collision damage to the fuel cells.

In a fuel cell, stored hydrogen reacts with oxygen from the air to produce electricity. There are no emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, and the only waste product is water.

“Just getting this piece of work done is an accomplishment because it is so complicated, so difficult to build. We are so happy already. If we do win the race that’s a bonus,” said Sam Tippetts, project manager of Imperial College London’s team.

Reporting by Tineke van der Struik; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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