© Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

“You’ve got to force the air through it”

Today, the well-designed fans on the side-pod and roll-hoop look quite familiar. But only three years ago these cooling solutions that bring about 518 percent improvement in airflow, were unthinkable. Mark Wilson, Sales Director at ebm-papst Automotive & Drives (UK), remembers how the development came about.


How did Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport cool the oil and water in the car before today’s solution was in place?

They were using an AC forward curved fan. In 2013 and before, almost all of the F1 teams would have only used this standard solution. The reason for that is there’s quite high back pressure and flow required for cooling the oil and the water in a short time. It was very normal to have the fan placed next to the car with just a piece of flexible ducting directed into the side-pod. This was before our partnership with the team.

What changed in 2014?

We immediately started talking about a new solution during our first year of the partnership. Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport had an outline design brief. They wanted the new cooling solution to be mobile, high performance and they wanted it to run on 24vdc battery and AC power. So we had to come up with a DC solution and utilise a transformer for AC charging during garage operation. We did some homework and looked which new products were available. The “S-Force” unit was perfect for it – a real game changer!

Why didn’t you offer this other solution earlier?

Mark Wilson, Sales Director at ebm-papst Automotive & Drives (UK) Photo | ebm-papst

There was simply nothing that was available prior to that. The thought of using a small axial fan was unachievable for the performance required. It would never have worked. Then there was the 4114 S-Force development that came out of ebm-papst St. Georgen. It had originally been designed for a demanding telecom application. Suddenly we had a unit that was capable of 11,000rpm, up to 570 m3/h and operate at a very high duty point. Also, it was much lighter: We went from having a die-cast aluminum housed forward curved impeller–which was only ever useable in the garage because it needed to be on mains power– to having a lightweight polycarbonate fan that could be completely utilized anywhere. It could be used in parc fermé, on the grid and inside the garage. Instead of needing to have mobile power and generators, they had this hand-held unit which could run on its own power source. On top of that, the available performance was massively increased. It was an absolute win-win: lighter, mobile and it did everything better. And Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport were the first to adopt it.

What’s special about the design?

The uniqueness of this is that you’re pressurizing onto the engine’s heat exchanger. It is incredibly important to seal all the way from the inlet to the heat exchanger. When the air hits the heat exchanger, if there is any way for it to leak between the fan and the radiator it will escape and lose pressure which reduces the cooling performance. We advised to not just blow on it; you’ve got to force the air through the side-pod with no options to escape anywhere else.

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S-Force

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