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BAC researches how to make a hydrogen-powered monoplane

UK-based BAC is weighing the pros and cons of building a hydrogen-powered version of the Mono, an open-wheel single-seat roadster that blurs the line between race and street car. BAC aims to save gas without sacrificing key attributes of the model.

Viritech, a British company specializing in the development of hydrogen powertrain, is helping BAC implement the project. As for the text, it’s just an idea: It exists in the minds of engineers and in computer-generated images (shown above). The first part of the project (funded by the UK government’s Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles) involved conducting a feasibility study to find out what was possible and what was not.

In theory, building a hydrogen-powered car is relatively simple; hydrogen can be used to generate electricity, or – as Toyota showed off recently and BMW car on display almost 20 years ago – it can be ignited in an internal combustion engine. However, one of the Mono’s main selling points is its low weight and excellent power-to-weight ratio. Finishing up with a £5,700 convertible is not the goal here.

BAC points out that one of Viritech’s areas of expertise is finding relatively lightweight ways to store hydrogen. And, the automaker has previously experimented with weight-saving materials like graphene and Niobium, so it doesn’t have to start from scratch. It has reduced the weight of the Niobium-reinforced metal chassis by 18%, so this could go a long way in offsetting the weight of the hydrogen system.

Whether (not to mention when) the hydrogen-powered Mono sees the light that awaits at the end of the production line depends on the outcome of the feasibility. BAC did not provide a schedule, although we expect the company to release an update on the project in the not-too-distant future.

Hyundai trying to answer the same questions as BAC. In 2021, it introduced a 671 hp concept called the Vision FK Its powertrain includes in-house developed hydrogen technology and the battery package provided by Rimac. It’s not as heavy as the Mono and it’s not yet approved for production, but bringing something similar to market will also require developing innovative ways to reduce weight.

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