Hanergy is working on using thin film solar cells to tap sunlight and convert it to reusable power, utilising vacant space on rooftop and rear windscreen of the race car. This electricity will run the air conditioning unit by itself, totally independent of engine rotation. Thereby, Aston Martin’s track performance will increase, and will earn them bragging rights for going green.
By bringing the concept to life, Aston Martin Racing would implement on V12 Vantage GT3 and V8 Vantage GT4. Expected race debut is on 20th to 22nd September 2014 at 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas. Temperatures go high in Texas, where air conditioning will require significant power to keep the driver cool.
Present FIA WEC regulations dictate that GT cars must be equipped with Air-Con units to maintain temperature of cockpit less than 32 degrees centigrade or 12 degrees above ambient temperature. The 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend, where Aston martin Racing won in the LMGTE Am category, did not require importance to in-cabin HVAC as ambient temperatures were not as high.
Apart from enforcing eco friendly technologies in race cars, Aston Martin and Hanergy are exploring methods to incorporate solar panels in its new Banbury premises to augment efficiency and promote clean energy.
Auto manufacturers implementing solar rooftops are trending, we see MINI plant bodyshop getting roof-mounted solar farm at Oxford, Mercedes-Benz India plant administrative unit’s solar rooftop and Maruti Suzuki investing Rs 10 crore on Manesar plant solar unit.
But rather important question here – Is this the future of air conditioning in cars?
Aston Martin Racing Joins Hanergy in Solar-Powered Project
Le Mans, 13 June 2014 – Banbury, 13 June 2014 – Aston Martin Racing has signed a partnership agreement with solar technologies experts Hanergy Global Solar Power & Applications Group, in a project exploring how the sun’s energy can be used to improve race car performance at the pinnacle of sportscar racing, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), starting with the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend (14-15 June).
As part of its ambitious growth plans, Hanergy Solar is exploring wider applications of its technologies, investigating how solar power can be incorporated into many new areas to improve efficiency and enhance performance. In doing so it has turned to Aston Martin Racing for its latest project.
Jason Chow, Executive President of Hanergy Global Solar Power & Applications Group explains, “We are interested in adapting our world leading thin film solar technologies for cars, so that, for example, a thin layer of cells can be applied to the roof or rear windscreen to power the air-conditioning or other ancillary functions without affecting the performance of the car or using the fuel or battery source.”
“The engineers at Aston Martin Racing are helping us to apply our technology and eventually to put it to the test in the most extreme of automotive environments.”
In line with current FIA WEC regulations, GT cars must be fitted with an air conditioning system that keeps the temperature of the cockpit below 32 degrees centigrade or 12 degrees above ambient temperature.
High temperatures in the race car can have extremely negative affects on drivers and, with the WEC travelling to hot destinations such Austin and Bahrain, it is a concern for all of the teams. However, running air conditioning causes loss of power to the engine and negatively affects the car’s fuel efficiency.
“It’s a bit of a balancing game at the moment,” explained Dan Sayers, Chief Engineer at Aston Martin Racing. “The air conditioning system uses engine power, however, keeping the drivers cool and more comfortable is essential. If we can find a solution that keeps the driver cool without the negative effects on performance then it could have a really positive impact on GT racing.”
Aston Martin Racing is continually improving the comfort of its range of Vantage race cars that compete in championships around the world and the technology could be introduced to the V12 Vantage GT3 and V8 Vantage GT4 once developed.
“We aren’t looking at solar power technology for our race cars because it is a green option,” explains Aston Martin Racing’s Team Principal John Gaw. “We are looking at how we can use the power of the sun to improve the comfort of our race cars for our drivers and therefore increase our performance on track. However, we are looking at how we can improve our green credentials as a business now that we are moving to new premises.”
Prodrive, which runs Aston Martin Racing on behalf of the famous brand will move to new premises in Banbury next year, so the company is also investigating how Hanergy’s solar technologies can be integrated into the new building to improve efficiency.
The project will run throughout 2014 with the engineers developing the technology at Aston Martin Racing’s premises ahead the next round of the WEC, the Six Hours of Austin, at the Circuit of the Americas.
About Hanergy Solar Group (parent company of Hanergy Global Solar Power & Applications Group – 566:Hong Kong)
Hanergy Solar Group is the world’s leading thin-film photovoltaic technology enterprise with major businesses in R&D, design and assembly of large-scale thin-film solar turnkey production lines, as well as the development and operation of downstream solar power projects and application products. Hanergy Solar Group entered the solar power industry and grew rapidly since 2009, by continuing to fulfill the equipment sales agreements of thin-film solar turnkey production lines, and further extending the business to the downstream area of solar power.