The salt covered tail of the Fusion with its new vent pipe. Click to enlarge
As soon as Ford's Fusion 999 team finished setting their 207 mph land speed benchmark on Wednesday, they loaded the car up on a truck to return to Michigan for the Woodward Dream Cruise. The still-salt-encrusted Fusion, along with Project leader Matt Zuehlk, Roush's Rick Darling and driver Rick Byrnes, were all on hand for the festivities.
Matt explained that the Fusion ran great all week although they did have a few issues that didn't show up until they hit the high speeds of the salt flats. A problem with a cooling pump required a visit to a local garage to use a hoist to replace it. The team spent a long night pulling off the belly pan and replacing the pump. An aerodynamic issue also popped up that affected the hydrogen venting system.
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As was explained in the Fusion testing report, the fuel compartment is sealed off from the driver's compartment. A steady flow of nitrogen is used to purge any excess hydrogen that seeps out of the pressurized fuel cell stack. At speed they found that the high pressure area by the back bumper was preventing the proper flow from the vent forcing the hydrogen/nitrogen mix back into the car triggering the sensor that shuts down the car. The team fabricated a extended pipe up the back of the car to vent the excess into the low pressure zone at the trailing edge of the spoiler which cured the problem.
As for the future, Matt explained they would be taking the lessons they've learned from this project, particularly with regard to the fuel delivery system and applying it to their next-generation fuel cell vehicle. That vehicle will be developed over the next year with a major focus on weight reduction and aerodynamics. We can expect to see the new car at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2009.