BAC’s Hydrogen eMono Concept an Alternative to BEV Racers

A British supercar manufacturer is developing a hydrogen powertrain for a single-seat track car that could pave the way to future zero emission racing cars.

Briggs Automotive Company (BAC) has teamed up with powertrain engineers Viritech to release results of a hydrogen powertrain concept feasibility study, to create what the pair describe as a new e-Mono. Viritech has developed hydrogen powertrains for the automotive, aerospace, marine and distributed power industries.

The project has secured a Niche Vehicle Network Feasibility Study grant, funded by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles, to carry out a study into developing a hydrogen powertrain for niche vehicle applications. Working in collaboration with Liverpool headquartered BAC, manufacturers of the Mono supercar.

The automaker points out that one of the main challenges of converting a 555kg (1,221lbs) Mono supercar to zero-emissions is how to retain its ultra-lightweight, especially as converting to battery-electric would make the car 50% heavier. In addition, while BEVs can go just as fast as an ICE alternative, it lacks the latter’s and responsiveness through corners. The two project partners have set out to create a design for a ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) e-Mono that stayed true to BAC’s founding principle of making the world’s best driving car.

Viritech’s claims its hydrogen fuel cell drivetrains are lighter, smaller and more efficient than anything on the market and BAC needs it to fit within the existing chassis and body of its Mono, while keeping weight to an absolute minimum.

One of the main challenges was to retain perfect weight distribution with all its powertrain elements housed within the confines of existing Mono bodywork. The solution was to fit the battery pack element as far under the seat as possible and, by making the battery pack casing a structural component, it was possible to reduce the chassis footprint which increased available space. The fuel cell was then put above the battery pack, with its compressor hidden inside the air intake pod normally used for the gasoline-powered Mono R.

The result is a battery pack which produces 265bhp, with a fuel cell producing 107bhp and tiny 3kg motors on the front wheels which provides an additional 55bhp per motor and all-wheel drive. Overall weight is within 100kg of its ICE powered sibling enjoying an expected performance of 0-62mph in 2.2 seconds and a top speed f 165mph.

In virtual Digital Twin simulation tests, in which the e-Mono shaved two seconds off the Mono R Silverstone lap time (2.04.3 vs 2.06.3). The combination of fuel cell and battery resulted in the capability to run 10 fast laps of Silverstone between refuelling. On-road range is calculated at 166 miles on the official WLTP cycle, approximately 140 miles in realistic use.

Neill Briggs, BAC co-founder and director of product development, said: “BAC is renowned for launching world firsts in the automotive industry and e-Mono raises the bar once again. Driving enthusiasts around the world will be as delighted as we are by this feasibility study, with e-Mono offering the perfect combination of range, performance and zero emissions.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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