• Aug 24th 2010 at 2:11PM
  • 22
2010 Ohio State University Buckeye Bullet – Click above for high-res image gallery

As they have for the past several years, the kids from Ohio State University made the trek out to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah this month to see how fast they could go without emitting any pollutants. The Buckeye Bullet has always been electrically driven but in past years the juice for the motors was provided by hydrogen fuel cells. In 2009, fuel cell-powered Bullet set an FIA two-way land speed record of 300.992 miles per hour. This year, OSU has teamed up with Venturi, the Monaco-based maker of very few electric vehicles and transformed the Buckeye Bullet 2 into a test mule for an all-new 2011 car.

The fuel cells have now been replaced by lithium-ion batteries from A123 Systems and, after several days of aborted runs and wind-storms, the team finally got in two clean passes Monday afternoon. On the first run, the Bullet traversed the flying mile at 286 miles per hour. After repacking the parachute and turning the car around, the students watched as the car sped by in the opposite direction at 297 mph for a two-way average of 291 mph and, yet again, a new battery-powered vehicle record.

[Source: BangShift]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      A123 battery energy density is more like 100Wh/kg than 150Wh/kg. They have good power density, but poor energy density. Makes good batteries for hybrids, but bad for BEV. You would also need supporting structures and cooling for those batteries, and 60 ton battery would need something like 20 ton cooling system. That's 80 tons. add 20 supporting systems. 100 tons. And one huge strain to tracks and wheels unless you span that to length of entire train. If you do that where do you put the passengers? And you are no longer going 356 mph because of increased rolling resistance. You need bigger engines to compensate. Heavier wheel support. Heavier everything.

      Anyway even if making such a train would not be a problem, it just doesn't exist, so it doesn't have the record. And even if it existed I don't believe it can accelerate, stop, turn around and go again in other direction in time required to make a FIA two-way land speed record.

      Yes I have been in train that goes fast. Yes, it is boring. You can't do anything yourself. If I want to go fast and have fun I would get a airplane or a car. Not a train that cuts out all the freedom of movement. Even driving that Peel P50 is probably more fun than sitting in a train rolling thumbs and waiting to get to destination.

      This kind of record breaking is helping developing better power electronics and motors and is good test for the batteries so it is not just academic.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Go Buckeyes!

      Still a bit of work before they beat the original car's 321.8 mph top speed. And it's US land speed record of 314. But they'll get it, before I left they were planning some sweet stuff for the future.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder why it doesn't look like a Hummer or a Cadillac Escalade
        • 8 Months Ago
        Because it's American and Americans don't know anything about aerodynamics?

        The douchebaggery never ends.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They should have use free hydrogen gas instead of paid coal electricity. They work for natural ressources cartel only and have left car guys behind.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They ran Hydrogen for a couple years. It was a giant hassle, and didn't perform as well as they would have liked. Hence the switch back to batteries.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Apparently, the FCV version ran well enough to set an FIA record, which this battery version couldn't match...

        I understand that the next model should certainly surpass that and hopefully set a new record, and I'm willing to defer to your apparent relationship to the team.

        Personally, I would suggest a switch in sponsorship funding (free batts vs free fcs) makes the bigger difference in what the team decides to run.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Sponsorship played a bit of a role, but the stuff they went through to make the fuel cells work was ridiculous. Those guys were at the shop working all the time. Also keep in mind, this is the fuel cell vehicle. It's just been retrofitted as a test bed for the next car. Which is going to be awesome.

        And like I said before, the BB1 beat this speed running on Prius batteries back in 04. But this is a bigger heavier car since it was made to carry some giant fuel cells. The original was much smaller.
        • 8 Months Ago
        "They should have use free hydrogen gas instead of paid coal electricity"
        Please gorr, tell us where this magical free hydrogen is.
        Last I heard, free hydrogen only exists in deep space. All hydrogen on planet earth (and most of the other planets too) is chemically attached to other molecules, and requires energy to release.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I never attacked the OSU students, I
      a) commented that the claim (in the title and in the text of the article) relating to land speed records is wrong. Such a claim shows ignorance of high speed rail and maglev, so I provided information on that.
      b) pointed out that there is little practical application for what they are doing

      Why that gives you licence for personal attacks is beyond me.

      But please, do go ahead and shout in all-caps some more. That makes any reasoned argument much more persuasive.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Sorry, but your complete ineptitude of understanding seemed to require the need of for me to respond by "shout in all-caps some more. That makes any reasoned argument much more persuasive."

        as for your comment that: "b) pointed out that there is little practical application for what they are doing"

        If you would have done a more complete research you would have learned the primary purpose of this research and development project is to draw attention to the fact that these types of cars can be "practically" applied as more than more an urban short-range forms of low speed transportation.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Kudos to the Buckeye Bullet team from Ohio State!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Woo woo!! Go Bucks!

      From what I hear, the 2011 car is going to be insanity. Can't wait to see what they can do next year!
      • 5 Years Ago
      You can't ride on a railgun bullet.

      Creating a train with an internal energy source that beats the speed of that car would be straightforward - basically, replace the pantograph of the TGV with a big wire that goes to a bank of batteries stored inside the train. This raises an interesting question - does this scale?

      Here I run into difficulties, because I can't find detailed specs on A123 batteries. Their 18650 cell says "over 3000 W/kg" power density, but doesn't give the energy density. So, let's take their 3 kW/kg power density. The TGV that set the record had a combined motor power of 19.6 MW, so to provide that power you'd need roughly 6.5 tonnes of batteries. Given that the train that went 574.8 km/h weighed 300 tonnes, this is not an issue. But if the energy density is, say, 150 Wh/kg, then at 3 kW you'd drain the battery in 3 minutes - not enough time to get up to speed. You'd probably need more like 20 tonnes of batteries, maybe 40 tonnes. Again, not a problem, but hugely expensive and...

      ... we're back to my original point - doing that would be silly. Running the vehicle on rails makes it possible for it to be safe, and to get power from an overhead wire. This is the only way you're going to run high-speed land vehicles used to transport people (or goods).

      So, a battery-electric speed record is an interesting thing to pursue as an engineering challenge, but it's in the same vein as the steam-powered record; of academic interest only.

      To answer your question: where's the fun in that? Have you ever been in a vehicle at ground level going really fast? I think it's fun to ride on a train that runs beside a highway and watch cars and trucks travelling in your direction going *backwards* at 200 km/h. :-) The ones travelling in the opposite direction appear to be going 400 to 500 km/h. That sort of closing speed is unreal.

      (Flying a "low and over" in an airplane is fun, too, but you can only do that a short distance!)
        • 8 Months Ago
        D*mn, my long reply apparently went to bitheaven without visiting this page.

        Short version:
        1) train land speed record is not FIA two-way electric land speed record.
        2) trains are boring, even fast ones. They cut out all the freedom of movement.
        3) this kind of record braking help developing better power electronics and batteries, so it is not academic.

        4) (would be long explanation why using batteries you can't do it by just 40ton extra weight, more like 100ton if that is even enough)

        • 8 Months Ago

        I WOULD ATTEMPT TO EXPLAIN IT, BUT THAT WOULD BE AN EVEN BIGGER WASTE OF TIME SINCE YOU SEEM TO THINK: (Flying a "low and over" in an airplane is fun, too, but you can only do that a short distance!) EVEN REMOTELY RELATES TO THIS PROJECT.
      • 5 Years Ago
      In what way is 300 mph a land speed record? The TGV went faster than this in 1990. More recently, in 2007 they set a new record of 574.8 km/h (356 mph). (Though that wasn't a bidirectional record).

      Google it... sample news report from the time: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6521295.stm

      And that's not quite the record, either, which was set by an experimental maglev train in Japan at 581 km/h (361 mph). But I think the TGV is more impressive as the record was set using a rail line that was then put into daily use, albeit at a much more pedestrian 320 km/h maximum speed.

      And if you want to experience the ultimate in fast land vehicles today, take the one commercially-operated maglev, the Shanghai Transrapid, which reaches 431 km/h - while carrying

      Sample video (you can find lots of others):

      Sure, it's impressive to be able to go nearly 300 mph in a battery-powered electric vehicle, but really, what's the point? If you really want to go fast, you're going to need a totally grade-separated guideway anyway.
        • 8 Months Ago
        If you can't discern the difference between an electric car and a train running along a track with an unlimited external supply of electrical energy, then words fail me and I'm glad you don't work for the Guinness Book of World Records.

        Really, "What's the point?" is much more applicable to your comment than the achievement of these students.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I'm pretty sure that there is a railgun bullet that goes faster than your trains. That's electric land speed record while it is still in the gun. Not a train or a car though.

        Seriously, if you have a train with _internal_ energy source that beats that car then go ahead that tell us. I don't think that exists. That's the challenge here. Carry that power source in the vehicle and still get it to go fast. You could of course turn that car to "train" by putting it to tracks, but where's the fun in that?
        • 8 Months Ago
        First off, the claim is that it's an "electric speed record". It isn't. It isn't even close.

        "Battery electric", sure, but I think it's fair commentary to point out that this is of very limited practical use. People argue technologies all the time - well, I'm saying that we already know how to build electric-drive that can push vehicles to insane speeds, but for safety reasons that can only be of use in guided vehicles. (Trains, in other words.) In which case, of course you don't bother carrying all your energy around with you in chemical batteries. So worrying about top speed in a battery-electric vehicle is of only academic interest. What is relevant, in practical terms, is energy density and cost.

        I can see the fun and educational value in pursuing engineering challenges, but having to go out to the salt flats to run a car that can't go significantly faster than a maglev train you can walk onto and ride today for $7.35 ... well, to each his own.
        • 8 Months Ago
        sorry about the chopped bit, it was supposed to say:

        ... 431 km/h (269 mph) - while carrying up to 310 passengers.

        One-way ticket price is 50 yuan, which translates to $7.35 US.

        I think it's cool and all, but I doubt that maglev will ever catch on except in a few niche applications (with very little need for switches). The Chinese are building high-speed conventional rail; 350 km/h is fast enough, and there are many advantages to being able to run the same trains over a large network.
      • 5 Years Ago
      btw, A123's catchphrase should be "you can't have em"
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