Automobile Club de l'Ouest

Fuel distribution Le Mans, France 2022

Client background and challenges 

ACO, the automobile club and organizer of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race since 1923, has set itself the crucial challenge of creating a Hydrogen category for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2025, in order to promote zero-emission car racing and carbon-free transportation.

To show the potential of this energy carrier, ACO opened a hydrogen station in July 2020 that demonstrates the different hydrogen mobility uses (public transport vehicles, HGVs, fleet-owned and private vehicles). This hydrogen station already supplies one of Le Mans Métropole’s buses, as well as private cars and refuse collectors. Other buses ordered by Le Mans Métropole will gradually also come here to fuel up. The support of the various local representatives (Town hall of Le Mans, Department of Sarthe, Pays de la Loire region, CCI), who are also driving forces and convinced of the potential of hydrogen, largely contributed to this opening.

At the same time, the organizer is continuing to select partners to equip the hydrogen prototypes that will take part in the famous endurance race, such as Plastic Omnium for the tanks or GreenGT for the powertrain (battery, engine and power electronics), as well as Symbio, Michelin, Dietsmann, Richard Mille and Essilor, who also believe strongly in Hydrogen mobility.

 

Lhyfe x ACO, the partnership

To go all the way with this eco-responsible approach, it was essential that the hydrogen delivered be clean hydrogen, i.e. produced in a renewable way (see articles on the different types of hydrogen). This innovative approach thus became part of a project of a completely different scale – the creation of a regional, renewable hydrogen fuel chain, bringing together several players involved in this transition.

This hydrogen ecosystem project, known as H2 Ouest, aims to help develop a completely renewable hydrogen fuel chain in the West of France and brings together, among others, ACO, Lhyfe and the Vendée energy network operator Sydev. The project won the support of the French energy and environment agency ADEME as part of the H2 – Mobility / Hydrogen Mobility Ecosystems call for projects of 2019.

Under this project, Lhyfe and ACO worked together to build a hydrogen ecosystem in Pays de la Loire based on a local and renewable hydrogen production model. Lhyfe also worked with ACO to ensure the compliance of the existing fuel station to receive renewable hydrogen. The first containers of Lhyfe hydrogen were delivered from the Bouin production site in Vendée.

Car racing and the 24 Hours of Le Mans have always strived to develop new technologies. Today, more than ever, the role of ACO, is to ensure access to all to mobility that respects our environment and that of our children tomorrow. Our Hydrogen strategy allows carbon-free and multi-use mobility since this energy concerns buses, trucks, fleet-owned or private cars, trains, planes and boats. We are thus participating in the energy transition that is essential for the planet.

Pierre Fillon, President of ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) and organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans

1 full tank of hydrogen

provides a bus with a real autonomy of over 300 kilometres, takes 15 minutes to fill and, when the vehicle is used, emits only water.

5 private and public operators

are commited to creating this renewable hydrogen ecosystem (ACO, Sydev, Vendée Hydrogène, Lhyfe and Le Mans Métropole).

What made the difference ?

 

When a vehicle connects to the station, the filling process is simple: the compressed H2 passes through a distribution hose filling the tank of the vehicle up to 350 bars (today) via a simple pressure cascade system. It is an easy-to-use system, similar to filling up with conventional fuel.