Mostly because its inaugural season is yet to be run, I don’t particularly follow Extreme E. But the machines are cool and the series’ conceit is fresh.
An announcement that the series will bring fuel cell-based battery charging infrastructure everywhere the series travels has me intrigued.
AFC Energy announced that it’s produced a custom hydrogen fuel cell system for Extreme E that will be installed aboard the RMS St. Helena, a former Royal Mail ship that will haul the racecars and supplies to each site on the championship’s schedule.
The system uses fuel cell technology to provide the energy needed for all of Extreme E’s Odyssey 21 racers. It’s one more step toward creating a zero-emissions racing series.
One of the coolest things about this is that it’s entirely off-grid and transportable. In essence, the EVs don’t go to the infrastructure; the infrastructure goes to them. This system will tour the world with the Odyssey SUVs and charge them in preparation for the Extreme E races.
Adam Bond, AFC Energy’s CEO, described the system in the following way in a report from Alt-Drive Magazine:
In simple terms, the bespoke charging system that AFC Energy has developed for Extreme E is made up of four primary components: the fuel production, alkaline fuel cell, a battery storage unit and the charger itself.
In the days leading up to each race weekend, hydrogen will be generated from a combination of portable solar arrays powering electrolysers, which is then stored in low-pressure metal hydride cylinders ready for use over the weekend. For the race, our fuel cell will utilise the green hydrogen to generate clean power which will then be capable of being fed into each of their Odyssey 21 race vehicles via a battery storage unit to buffer power in order to meet peak charging times between races.
In that same interview Bond noted that the production of the hydrogen needed to recharge all of the machines will take a minimum of ten days and Bond said the system will “aim to produce between 0.9 and 1.2 megawatts of energy.”
Again, this announcement has me thinking more about Extreme E in general. The series features accomplished drivers, both men and women, addresses climate change and is adopting motorsport in an almost cartoonish way. I mean that in the best way possible.
Here’s this race where rugged BEVs travel by sea to remote places and compete in off-road conditions while recharging via fuel cells. Yeah. I think I’m already a fan.