Dutch students smash world record for most efficient hydrogen car

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A student team from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands has set a new Guinness world record for the longest distance driven by a hydrogen car without refuelling.

The student team, called Eco-Runner, succeeded in driving their ultra-efficient city car no less than 2,488.4 km in three days using just one kilogram of hydrogen fuel — equivalent to driving from Berlin to Istanbul. The marathon feat, which took place from 23-25 June, smashed the previous record of 2,055.7 km.

The Eco-Runner student team smashed the current world record by over 400km. Credit: Eco-Runner/TU Delft

The team headed to a race track in southern Germany for the world record attempt, as part of Shell’s annual Eco-Marathon, a competition that challenges students to design, build, and race fuel-efficient cars. Eleven drivers took turns navigating the same 5 km lap in two-hour shifts, totalling 71.5 hours of day and night driving. 

Eco-Runner spent the last year designing, constructing, testing, and racing the hydrogen-powered vehicle in a bid to bring home the trophy. It is one of several hydrogen cars developed by the student team in recent years.  

The latest vehicle — dubbed the ECXIII — is an ultra-lightweight, compact microcar that tips the scales at just 72 kg thanks to its carbon fibre hull. The vehicle converts hydrogen into electric energy, producing only water vapour and heat as byproducts.

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The ERXIII is the latest in a long line of hydrogen city cars built by the Eco-Runner student team. Credit: Eco-Runner/TU Delft

Eco-Runner sees its tiny hydrogen car as a vision of a future where “all cars are smaller, lighter, and aerodynamic,” with the focus being  on “shared mobility” as “people deal with transport more sustainability and efficiently.” 

While most of the emphasis in the passenger car segment has been on EVs, the team at Eco-Runner believes that hydrogen-powered city cars also have a place on the tarmac. 

“Electric cars are also part of the solution for sustainable mobility, but the electricity grid is already filling up,” said operations manager Eliane van Boxtel. “Electrifying the whole world is not an option. Hydrogen and electric cars go hand in hand. There is no one big winner.” 

Representatives for the Guinness World Records supervised the record attempt and officially recognised the achievement.