If Jesse and James Glickenhaus get their way, this year could see a first in motorsport history. The father and son’s company, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, is readying a hydrogen version of its Boot pick-up truck for the Baja 1000 in November. In doing so, the Hydrogen Boot will be the world’s first zero emissions vehicle to take part in the legendary Mexican off-road endurance race. Jesse, who has deep passion for renewable energy, tells us more about this exciting project.
JESSE GLICKENHAUS: “MY DAD CHALLENGED ELON MUSK TO A ZERO-EMISSIONS RACE IN THE DESERT”
Jesse, what’s the inspiration behind your desire to race a 100% renewable car in the Baja?
My burning passion beside family is sustainability. And my vision is that the global transportation industry is 100% renewable and 100% zero emissions globally. That's my goal. I didn't start with that vision. I started with a question. Somebody asked me over dinner, “what would it take to run a zero emissions Baja 1000?”. From an energy density point of view, the best answer is nuclear. But from a practical point of view, and a common point of view, the next best answer is a hydrogen fuel cell.
Why did you favour batteries instead of hydrogen for your Baja Boot?
Elon Musk tweeted: “Fuel cells are fool cells”. So, my dad responded and said “you bring a Cybertruck, we’ll bring a fuel cell Boot and we’ll race in the Baja”. In the Baja our internal combustion engine (ICE) boot races with 60 gallons of fuel that lasts us up to 200 miles. Which is approximately the same as a GT3 Nürburgring race car. From an energy density point of view, batteries are less energy dense as you would need more mass of batteries than that of race fuel. We’re talking about the difference between 120kgs of race fuel versus 1020kgs of batteries, and that mass is getting depleted when we race, unlike the electric car. I’m not saying batteries are bad and hydrogen is good. It depends on the use case. When you are energy limited, like in the Baja, you probably want compressed hydrogen. The reason why I came to hydrogen fuel cells for the Baja is that in this race, the problem we are trying to solve is being energy limited. And the energy density of the best batteries on the market, the Tesla battery, is approximately 0.45 mega-joules per kilowatt of battery. The energy destiny of gasoline is around 45 mega-joules per kilowatt. And the energy density of hydrogen, not in a volumetric sense and you have to look at the storage, is 120 mega-joules per kilowatt.
So, hydrogen provides the most energy, not just when compared to battery vehicles, but combustion engine cars, too?
The difference between a fuel cell and an ICE vehicle is that one gallon of gasoline has the energy equivalent of one kilogram of hydrogen. A fuel cell plus electric motors is approximately twice as efficient as an internal combustion engine running through a transmission. One kilogram of hydrogen will take you twice as far in a fuel cell electric vehicle as one gallon of gasoline in an ICE car.
What about the infrastructure? Refuelling in the desert is never easy, but especially so when the infrastructure is non-existent.
One of the reasons why I embraced wanting a zero emissions Baja 1000 truck is that we have to build the fuelling infrastructure. It does not exist, and the Baja is not going to provide it for us. So, we are building scalable, mobile refuelling infrastructure that we can plop into the desert a week in advance to drive up to and refuel with no auxiliary electricity. And this is huge.
How is Motul involved with your hydrogen Boot project?
We love Motul. It’s a sponsor, we work closely with it, and its people are very interested in the hydrogen side because they see sustainability is growing and they want to figure it out. Hydrogen cars need lubricants and coolants, too. So Motul is very open to it and ready.