Oreca kicks off hydrogen engine project for Dakar Rally

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Prolific French race car manufacturer Oreca is to partner with global engineering company FEV to develop a hydrogen internal combustion engine for use in the Dakar Rally in 2024.

“Oreca continues its exploration of alternative energies in the context of motorsports applications,” said Serge Meyer, director of Oreca’s Magny-Cours engine development facility. “It is with great conviction that we have chosen FEV as our partner to better understand the combustion of hydrogen and accelerate our development.”

Though hydrogen is generally considered a zero-emissions fuel when combusted, the main exhaust gas component in a hydrogen-fueled ICE is nitrogen oxide (NOX ). However, thanks to its very high laminar rate of combustion and broad ignition limits, hydrogen allows for lean burning with a large amount of excess air. Oreca notes that low exhaust gas temperatures mean that even without exhaust gas aftertreatment, the level of nitrogen oxide is already below current regulatory limits. Aftertreatment is an effective means of further reducing NOX emissions if required.

“FEV is already deeply knowledgeable in the area of hydrogen, so this collaboration makes perfect sense. We are very excited to join forces with Oreca since it not only reinforces our commitment to zero-CO2 mobility but also allows us to hone our expertise by purposefully targeting one of the most demanding environments possible – the Dakar Rally,” said Nadim Andraos, EVP of FEV France, Spain and North Africa. “It is an excellent example of how motorsport still plays an important role in development that subsequently benefits the masses through implementing solutions in series production.”

The FEV-Oreca partnership will be conducted over two phases. The first, which is already underway, will focus on defining the engine’s technical requirements and simulation efforts, and is being managed entirely by FEV. The second phase will be dedicated to designing, producing and testing a prototype, and will be managed by Oreca utilizing its own specially prepared test benches.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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