LEDs lighting the way to greener motorsport at Autosport Int

Posted on 16 Jan 2012 by Tim Brown

Amongst the latest cars and kit at this year’s Autosport International, a UK engineering company was shedding some LED light on the kind of innovations that could help the motorsport industry tackle the challenge of its environmental impact.

Working in conjunction with LED specialists OCG Lighting, Showtrax International unveiled a prototype powerhood fitted with LED panels that are usually used in commercial ceiling fixtures.

A world-leading supplier of pit lane equipment, Showtrax have been commissioned to design and build powerhoods for a number of motor racing teams, including Formula 1 teams.

Powerhoods are suspended above the race car in the garage or awning and provide illumination, as well as electrical power and pneumatic air outlets. Fluorescent tubes are traditionally used as the primary source of light but these were prone to failure due to transport vibrations.

“We were finding that by the time we unpacked the powerhoods after transit several of the tubes failed to start and had to be changed”, explained Showtrax Managing Director Andy Britnell. “Sending out replacement tubes was a costly solution so we looked at alternative technologies.”

As a solid-state solution, LEDs are extremely stable in construction and robust in transport. Showtrax had previously explored retrofit LED tubes to replace the fluorescents but found that the available products weren’t fulfilling their expectations in terms of appearance and light output.

OCG Lighting’s high lumen output ‘daylight’ edge-lit LED panel offered an ideal alternative. At just 42 watts power consumption per panel (saving over two-thirds of the energy consumed using traditional fluorescents), the technology is not only highly reliable but provides an evenly distributed, high-quality light output.

Showtrax’s specialists found they were able to replace the fluorescent tubes with three of the LED panels without changing the structure of the powerhood, offering the possibility to retrofit existing units.

“OCG Lighting pride ourselves on product innovation. Our technical team worked closely with Showtrax International to develop a unique solution for the powerhood”, explained Simon Leggett, OCG Lighting’s Managing Director. “The Showtrax project has been an exciting new avenue for us to explore and we look forward to further developments in the automotive industry.”

With industry awareness of sustainability issues coming to the fore and organisations such as the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) pledging to cut their carbon emissions by 12% in 2012, LED technology may just light the way.