Ford Motor Company is planning to take its 10 years of hydrogen research expertise to the Bonneville Salt Flats this August. The company will attempt to set the world land-speed record in a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered Ford Fusion.

The Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999 fuel-cell car was collaboratively engineered by Ballard, Roush and Ohio State University. It is one of two vehicles Ford’s fuel-cell research team is helping prepare to set world land-speed records during Bonneville Speed Week on August 10–17. The other team is made up of Ohio State University student engineers and the Buckeye Bullet 2, a fuel-cell-powered racer that will compete for a world record in the unlimited class category. 

“Racing is part of Ford Motor Company’s DNA so it seemed only natural for us to build a fuel-cell race car that runs on hydrogen, a fuel that could someday play a key role in meeting the energy needs of the transportation sector,” said Gerhard Schmidt, vice president of research & advanced engineering for Ford Motor Company. “Our goal in attempting this record is to further expand our technological horizons with fuel-cell-powered vehicles. The collaboration with Ohio State University also affords us an opportunity to work closely with a prestigious university, which provides out-of-the-box thinking from student engineers and helps us recruit talented young people to work at Ford Motor Company.”

The Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999 was designed by Ford engineers and fabricated and built by Roush in Allen Park, Michigan. Ohio State students have provided the design of the 770-hp electric motor while Ballard has supplied the hydrogen fuel cells. Rick Byrnes, a veteran Bonneville racer and Ford retiree, will pilot the Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999 car on its record attempt.

Ohio State students have designed their unlimited class vehicle, dubbed Buckeye Bullet 2, from the ground up. Ballard donated the hydrogen fuel cells for Ohio State’s car, Roush its engineering services and Ford has provided overall project coordination and expertise in fuel-cell drivetrains.

Ohio State has some history with Bonneville. In 2004, students set the unlimited land-speed record for an electric vehicle by running 315 mph in the first Buckeye Bullet, dubbed BB1.

Ford has a strategy for alternative fuels built around multiple technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells. This flexible approach allows the company to meet goals for customer needs, environmental impact and shareholder interests. Ford has chosen not to focus on any one solution, but rather on several options, including hybrids, E85 ethanol, clean diesels, bio-diesels, advanced engine and transmission technologies and hydrogen fuel cells.

The company already has a fleet of 30 hydrogen-powered Focus fuel-cell vehicles on the road as part of a worldwide, seven-city program to conduct real-world testing of fuel- cell technology. Since its inception in 2005, the 30-car fleet has accumulated more than 540,000 miles. Ford has also been conducting tests with the world’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle: the Ford Edge with HySeries Drive. The vehicle makes use of a series electric drivetrain with an onboard hydrogen fuel-cell generator, giving it a range of 225 miles with zero emissions.

Ford already offers gasoline-electric hybrids, including the Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid. The company plans to offer hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan in 2008.

Source: Ford Motor Company