Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gordon Murray's future F1 vision

This month's Motorsport Magazine revisits Gordon Murray's year 2000 vision for the future of Formula 1 (pictured above): a largely wingless, gas-turbine powered car, with wheel fairings, surface cooling, and a driver in a g-suit under a canopy.

One thing I would disagree with is the gas turbine; the 21st century should be about liberating nuclear energy, not chemical energy. I would therefore propose instead a mini nuclear reactor, a slightly smaller version of the US Hyperion reactor design suggested several years ago. The core of this reactor employs low-enriched uranium-hydride UH3 to obtain a negative coefficient of reactivity.

Whilst the neutrons released in fission have a mean energy around 1 MeV, the uranium-235 fission cross-section is highest at thermal neutron energies, at or below 0.025eV. Hence, to maintain a fission chain-reaction, it is necessary to moderate the energy of the neutrons, and elastic collisions between the neutrons and hydrogen nuclei are an efficient means to achieve this. "If the uranium hydride gets too hot, the hydrogen is driven out of the uranium metal and the chain reaction stops. But as the system is sealed, the hydrogen flows back into the uranium when it has cooled, allowing the reaction to restart." This provides an intrinsically safe, negative coefficient of reactivity.

I'm also worried that Gordon's future vision might generate lift rather than downforce, so I might add a diffuser or a couple of venturi tunnels under the car in the style of Ben Bowlby's recent DeltaWing design. But that's another story...


Ron said...

I'm not quite sure what to think of this.Some of his ideas make VERY good sense,while others point to an idealist who is out of touch with reality.
What point is there in using a turbine,that much HP or even that much downforce?It looks like a recipe for 'formula 1 for engineers'.It has little relevance to those that support F1-the fans and motor industry.

Maybe it was never really meant to be serious or made public.Everyone is allowed a bit of daydreaming time ;-)

Doug said...

Setting aside Gordon Murray's future F1 vision, what about Gordon McCabe's future F1 vision?

Gordon McCabe said...

I've taken the year 2000 vision as a bit of fun; a sort of thought-experiment.

However, Murray actually proposes a more practical set of ideas to make contemporary F1 cheaper and more exciting in this month's Motorsport magazine.

Gordon McCabe said...

No front-wings, fission-power, and a return to circuits with gradient and contour, Doug!