German GP this weekend
This week is the German GP held at
Hockenheim, not Nurburgring, which was the venue for the
European GP last May. It was opened in 1939, 15 miles from
Heidelberg, and was used for German national car and
motorcycle racing. In 1965/6 it was uprated to a design by
John Hugenholz because one end was lost when an autobahn was
built. The resulting circuit 4.206 miles long remained
blindingly quick for most of its length, with a slow section
in the ‘stadium’ (i.e. grandstand) area, similar in
concept to the GP course at Indianapolis.
Hockenheim achieved notoriety in 1968 when,
at one of the first major races held at the circuit, Jim Clark
was killed in a Formula Two race following presumed tyre
failure. His actual death was caused, however, by the fact
that his car was able to leave the circuit and hit a tree.
While the Nurburgring was being made safe,
Hockenheim staged the 1970 German GP with a layout made slower
by the construction of three chicanes. It was not a popular
choice of venue but, following Lauda’s accident at the
Nurburgring in 1976, Hockenheim became the home of the German
GP apart from 1985 when the new ‘Nurburgring’ had the
Although young Alonso in the Renault is
still at the head of the table, there are eight rounds to go -
that’s 80 points up for grabs, so the championship is still
wide open. The points score going into this German GP stand
1 F Alonso (Spa) 77
2 K Raikkonen (Fin) 51
3 M Schumacher (Ger) 43
4= J Trulli (Ita) 31
4= R Barrichello (Bra) 31
6 JP Montoya (Col) 26
7= N Heidfeld (Ger) 25
7= G Fisichella (Ita) 25
9 R Schumacher (Ger) 23
10 M Webber (Aus) 22
11 D Coulthard (GB) 17
12 J Button (GB) 9
13 F Massa (Bra) 7
14= A Wurz (Aut) 6
14= T Monteiro (Por) 6
14= J Villeneuve (Can) 6
17 N Karthikeyan (Ind) 5
18= C Klien (Aut) 4
18= P de la Rosa (Spa) 4
18= C Albers (Hol) 4
21 P Friesacher (Aut) 3
22 V Liuzzi (Ita) 1
1 Renault 102
2 McLaren 87
3 Ferrari 74
4 Toyota 54
5 BMW-Williams 47
6 Red Bull 22
7 Sauber 13
8 Jordan 11
9 BAR 9
The race will begin (I believe) at 7 p.m.
our time on Sunday July 24 (but the final check is yours!),
and I will be watching from my usual roost at Jameson’s
Irish Pub on Soi AR. Why don’t you join me and the F1 fans
for a bite to eat and a drink or three at Jameson’s.
paints and the ideal getaway car
Paints that change colour through
temperature are called Thermochromic, while those that change
colour with sunlight are called Photochromic paints. One of
the first groups to use the fact that temperature could change
the colour of certain paints was the Formula 1 racing
industry. If you can estimate the colour change temperature
with a reasonable accuracy, then it would be possible to have
a visual warning system to indicate an overheating situation.
The application of this technology would be suitable for
radiator caps, brake calipers or anything where the moment it
hits a certain temperature it pre-warns operators of the
Now the University of Rhode Island chemists
have come up with a paint additive that is thermochromic.
Chemists Brett Lucht and Bill Euler and chemical engineer Otto
Gregory have created a polymer-based pigment that can be added
to paint and plastics. The pigment-enhanced paint can be made
to change from red to yellow when the painted item reaches 50
to 60 degrees C in 10 degree increments.
Although still early, Euler and Lucht
estimate that adding the pigment would only increase the cost
of the paint by 20 to 30 percent.
Now all these above should not be confused
with Phase change thermometers that are familiar to many
people in industry and commerce. They are found in forms like
temperature labels or temperature stickers having a central
white or yellowish dot that turns black when the temperature
value printed on the label is exceeded. These are also single
use devices. Again these were pioneered in the auto racing
industry, where the switched on engineers could quickly see
the temperatures in and out of radiators and oil coolers for
example. Of course this is now done electronically, but there
was a time before microprocessors took over the world!
But there are even more applications colour
change paint. Paint that heats your home and changes colour
with the seasons has been developed by Chinese scientists. The
coating, developed at Tongji University in Shanghai, absorbs
heat from the sun when the temperature outdoors drops below 20
degrees C. On summer days the paint automatically reflects
sunlight to keep a building cool.
Yiping Ma, one of the inventors, reports
that the coating could increase the temperature by about 4
degrees C in winter and decrease it by about 8 degrees C in
summer. The active part of the paint is a heat-sensitive
pigment called crystal violet lactone. This produces a variety
of hues, including red, green and blue, at close to room
temperature. Imagine, your neighbours could look out their
windows and use your house as a thermometer!
But let us return to the auto industry, do
we have colour change paint for cars? We are all familiar with
the ‘pearlescent’ paints that change tint when viewed at
different angles in the sunlight, but I mean a car that you
can drive to work as a yellow sedan but come home as a snazzy
red four door! The answer is again a yes.
There is a company called Trippin’ Paint,
run by a Texan trio - Clint, Chris and Dan Gallo which has
made a car paint that changes colour according to the ambient
Trippin’ Paint claims it is the world’s
first temperature activated colour changing automotive paint
system. It is not pearlescent paint, but one that can
literally turn from black to white or red to yellow.
The stimulus for the research was alcohol
induced. “We were sitting on the beach drinking margaritas
out of glasses that change colour when we drank and thought
how cool it would be to move down here and become beach bums.
Then we began brainstorming over our margaritas about how we
could make a paint that changed colours for cars, and that was
what started it all,” said Dan Gallo.
Trippin’ Paint system uses a coating of
non-reactive base paint and a non-reactive clear coating to
protect the colour changing paint from harmful agents such as
solvents and UV radiation. The only thing you have to do is
use a UV-blocking Trippin’ Clear coat, and a UV-blocking
urethane clear coat of your choice to protect the paint.
“You can have it change at any temperature you want in the
range, but the best temperature gradient is between 6-32 C,”
said Dan Gallo.
The paint costs about USD 1800 for enough
paint to cover a medium-sized car. It is available in five
colours. Black Pearl changes to pearl white, Candy Cane starts
off as dark-apple red and turns to a bright candy apple green
while Black Gold goes from a black gold with metal flakes to a
gold metallic. Rising Sun changes from red to yellow while
Purple Rain changes from a rich purple to a light blue. The
future is here now it seems, and it is certainly colourful.
Now what the police and licensing authorities are going to
do about this, I am not sure. I foresee problems. “What
colour was the car that hit you?” “Well it was a kinda
candy apple red.” “Yes, but the defendant’s car is candy
apple green. Case dismissed!”
In the energy
crisis, is natural gas the way to go?
Mercedes Benz showed the E 200 NGT saloon
at the Bangkok International Motor Show this year. This car
was a dual-fuel drive, using both CNG (compressed natural gas)
and gasoline fuels. In the boot area were four CNG bottles
holding 107 litres, as well as the standard fuel tank, and
amazingly there was still enough space for luggage. In CNG
mode, the level of CO2 emissions is reduced by 20 percent over
the gasoline values. It is also a most economical vehicle,
taking 6.1 kg of CNG to travel 100 km (or in petrol mode 9
litres of 95 octane gasoline), and with the relative prices of
the two fuels, the E 200 NGT will cost you around 48 baht per
100 km in CNG mode, compared to around 200 baht in gasoline
mode. There are currently 26 CNG stations in Bangkok, but only
two in the provinces, though the Thai Petroleum Authority
claims it will be increasing the number of provincial stations
soon. So you can save money with the E 200 NGT, provided you
have enough money to buy it in the first place!
this stage, perhaps a brief recap of what natural gas is, as a
fuel, is in order. CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) is expected to
help automakers meet the California Air Resources Board’s
mandates for Low Emission Vehicles and Ultra-Low Emission
Vehicles. Because there are abundant supplies of natural gas
in North America, using natural gas to replace gasoline also
helps reduce America’s dependency on foreign petroleum.
Interestingly, there are natural gas areas throughout ASEAN as
well, so this can be very relevant here too.
The cost of equipping a light-duty vehicle
to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) can range from about
US$2,000 up to about $6,000, depending on the vehicle and
number of cylinders to store the fuel. Natural gas is less
expensive than gasoline, and the relatively stable price of
the fuel has made it attractive to fleets as well as private
CNG makes much sense. The modifications to
the engine are relatively slight, and taking the Benz E 200
NGT as the example, the supercharged ‘Twinpulse’ engine
was modified by the addition of injector nozzles on the
underside of the intake manifold. A pressure regulator with
sensor and electromagnetic shut-off valve is fitted near the
engine to regulate the supply of natural gas and maintain the
required system pressure at a constant level. E 200 NGT the
most powerful saloon with a dual-fuel drive unit currently in
With the escalating fuel costs, CNG might
be worth looking at.
Last week, I asked who made the first
Jeeps, and what engine did they have? The correct answer was
Bantam, makers of the American Austin 7. The engines were by
Continental, so all those who went for Willys and Ford can
remain chastened. In fact, the others only got to make them on
Army contracts because Bantam’s output was not enough for
the American Army requirements.
And so to this week. In 1918, there were
only two makes of cars built in America with right hand drive.
What were they?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be
the first correct answer to email au [email protected]