In recent years, there has been a trend toward the development and popularity of smaller vehicles. Whether it’s bicycles (remember the wheeless bike) or cars (see the world’s lowest car cut in half), compact vehicles offer easier maneuverability through heavy traffic and certainly pique the curiosity of onlookers. This time the Eco-Runner student team steals the spotlight with their mini hydrogen-powered city Bubble Car, establishing a new World Record for the longest distance ever covered by a prototype car on full hydrogen fuel tanks.
The Eco-Runner project (see our previous article on their latest prototype) is a yearly endeavor that brings together students from various disciplines. It originated in 2005 with the development of the three-wheeled Eco 1 vehicle, which earned a place in the top five at the Shell Eco-marathon and demonstrated a fuel efficiency of 557 kilometers per liter of petrol. Their next model in 2007, characterized by its bullet-shaped design, transitioned to hydrogen as its primary power source. Remarkably, this achievement secured the Dutch fuel-efficiency record, as the car reached an equivalent of 2,282 kilometers per liter of petrol.
Over the years, new designs were unveiled until the initial Urban Concept class was introduced in 2020. With this new design, the Eco-Runner team won the Vehicle Design Award. In the following development, a fourth wheel was added, allowing the vehicle to accomplish a non-stop journey of more than 1,000 kilometers on a single tank of hydrogen, lasting for 36 hours.
Two years later, in 2022, the redesign aimed at establishing a fresh record for the longest distance traveled. Now, in 2023, they sought to put their latest car concept to the test drive, proving its capability to cover long distances without the need for refueling along the way. For this attempt, the current team of 24 students constructed a more robust vehicle with enhanced aerodynamics and weight-saving construction. After months of hard work, they unveiled the 2023 design of Eco-Runner XIII, which resembles a compact UFO speeding through the streets.
ACHIEVING THE GOAL OF A LONG-DISTANCE JOURNEY
The team embarked on their record-breaking effort at the Immendingen test track in Germany on June 22, 2023. The following day, the car started its journey to break the current Record. ‘This morning we started our World Record Attempt. We started the day at 4 AM with the whole team! The last changes were made, and the hydrogen tanks were sealed. At around 9 AM, the ECO XIII drove off for its first official lap. The whole morning crew was up and running,’ explained the team.
Throughout the record-setting run, the vehicle maintained a speed of 45 km/h, nearly doubling the velocity of the previous year’s prototype. Finally, on Sunday, the team surpassed the previous record of 2,056 km. However, they did not stop there, as they had not depleted their hydrogen supply. Thus, they continued to drive additional kilometers to maximize the potential of their car fully. Eventually, at 9 AM on June 26, the vehicle stopped, having covered a distance of 2,488.45 km. This achievement secured the team the Guinness World Record for the longest distance driven by a hydrogen-powered car.
According to designboom.com. Source of photos: internet