CD-adapco: Clean, Green & Frighteningly Fast: CD-adapco helps Ford break the land-speed record for fuel-cell powered cars

Traveling at 207mph, without consuming an ounce of gasoline and leaving nothing but a trail of water-vapor, Ford’s record breaking Fusion Hydrogen 999 recently demonstrated that “Clean and Green” doesn’t have to come at the expense of drivability. Named after an early 1900's vehicle that reached speeds near 100mph, the Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999 is powered by the latest fuel-cell technology and designed using cutting-edge Computational Fluid Dynamic simulation. It has replicated the success of its famous namesake, by becoming the first production based fuel cell powered car to travel at over 200mph.

This record breaking vehicle has a serious message: to demonstrate that sustainability can be achieved without compromising drivability. In practical terms, sustainability means companies taking into account not just financial outcomes, but also environmental and social performance. Ford Motor Company takes a no-compromise approach towards integrating sustainability into all aspects of its business strategy: "Sustainability is about making people's lives better," said Tim O'Brien, Ford’s deputy chief of staff, executive operations and sustainability. "That's the essence of any successful product, whether you are talking about an iPod, an automobile or a taco."

Ford's strategy for alternative fuels is built around multiple technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells. This flexible approach allows the company to meet goals for customer needs, environmental impact and shareholder interests. The strategy does not focus on a one catch-all solution, but includes a flexible array of options, including hybrids, E85 ethanol, clean diesels, bio-diesels, advanced engine and transmission technologies as well as hydrogen fuel cells. While developing sustainable vehicles, maintaining drivability key: "The point is, people often drive the vehicle they think they have to drive even though they'd really like to drive something else. But we are working on designing vehicles that not only support the sustainability agenda, but are exciting vehicles that people want to drive," says O’Brien.

Fuel-Cell Powered Car

The Ford Fusion 999 also reflects the company’s proud heritage of involvement in motorsports: "Racing is part of Ford Motor Company's DNA so it seemed only natural for us to build a fuel cell race car that runs on hydrogen, a fuel that could some day play a key role in meeting the energy needs of the transportation sector," said Gerhard Schmidt, Vice President, Research & Advanced Engineering for Ford Motor Company. "Our goal in attempting this record is to further expand our technological horizons with fuel cell powered vehicles. The collaboration with Ohio State University also affords us an opportunity to work closely with a prestigious university, which provides out-of-thebox thinking from student engineers and helps us recruit talented young people to work at Ford Motor Company." The Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999 is a collaborative effort among Ford, Roush, Ballard Power Systems and Ohio State University.

The car was designed by Ford engineers while Roush provided motorsport expertise and a workshop in which the car was constructed. The team of Ohio State’s University students provided the design of a 770 hp electric motor, giving the opportunity to Ford to recruit talented young people from a prestigious university.

Given that aerodynamic drag increases with velocity squared, it takes an enormous amount of power to run any vehicle at over 200 mph, especially for what is essentially a modified production vehicle. Roush engineers therefore dedicated special attention to drag reduction, since for a given engine output the drag of the vehicle essentially determines its maximum speed.
adapco’s STAR-CCM+ Computational Fluid Dynamics software, which allowed Roush engineers to rapidly examine the impact of multiple design configurations from the comfort of their desktop computers, including the analyses of different underbody and rear-wing configurations, all of which were benchmarked against the original car. As well as reducing drag, STAR-CCM+ also helped increase the high-speed stability of the vehicle, by demonstrating that the addition of a rear spoiler significantly reduced the body generated lift.

"Drag reduction of the Ford Fusion 999 was a key element of the successful world record attempt. By taking advantage of CFD analysis, physical test times could be reduced and multiple configurations of the vehicle studied. Other benefits included insights such as adding a rear spoiler for stability,” John W. Zaleski, Program Manager, Roush Industries. “Through several design iteration we managed to reduce the drag coefficient of the vehicle from 0.34 to 0.21, helping the Fusion to become the first fuel cell powered car to pass the 200 mph barrier. Our partnership with CD-adapco in our use of STAR-CCM+, allowed us to draw from a great pool of expertise spanning both CFD and vehicle aerodynamics."

The engineering effort expended designing, testing and manufacturing the Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999 is nothing short of exceptional. The fuel and power plant system consist of two Heliox tanks, one Hydrogen tank, the fuel cell system, a DC/AC inverter and an induction motor. The fuel cell system developed by Ballard chemically changes hydrogen atoms into electrical current with heat and water as by-products. It delivers DC current to an inverter, which converts current to AC and drives a 3 phase 770 hp induction motor. In order to maximize fuel cell power delivery, it was decided not to use ambient air for the catalytic process, but to carry all oxygen required for the speed record attempt. The oxygen is stored in tanks as a Heliox mix which contains 60% Helium and 40% Oxygen. For the purpose of reducing aerodynamic drag, the front of the car is closed to airflow so the only cooling provided for the fuel cells is ice cold water stored in a 400-litre tank.

The culmination of the project occurred on August 15, 2007 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, a location synonymous with speed having seen the world land speed record broken no fewer than 18 times. It was here that the Ford Motor Company became the first automaker to set a land speed record for a production-based fuel cell car when Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999 raced to 207.297 mph. With this latest environmental innovation and a historic run at Bonneville, Ford is looking to further expand the company’s technological horizons with fuel cell powered vehicles. They are hoping that lessons learned from this project will feed future fuel cell vehicle development with a goal of reducing vehicle complexity and cost, while making the designs more efficient, and by joint venturing the production of the fastest and cleanest speed record vehicle ever designed, CD-adapco continues to actively participate in providing ecologically viable industrial development.


Ford is becoming smaller, leaner, more globally integrated and more focused on meeting customers' needs and wants. It is also a company with sustainability at the heart of its business. Our vision for the 21st century is to provide sustainable transportation that is affordable in every sense of the word: socially, environmentally and economically.

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