June 1, 2023 – Last weekend at the Indy 500, Shell Oil introduced its next-generation renewable race fuel, ethanol primarily from sugarcane waste. However, race fans looking for speed may not have liked listening to some teams advising their drivers over radio communications to slow down to save tire integrity particularly in the turns where “marbles” or shredded pieces of failing tires have accumulated. After each accident, the sweepers came out to clear the slick marbles off the race course. The tire issue may have impacted the full success of the debut of Shell’s new biofuel in showcasing its optimum racing performance.
Another concern is a high concentration of ethanol in fuel can be corrosive to engines. The tanks and tubing of each race car had to be retrofitted with materials that are resistant to ethanol corrosion to avoid engine blowouts. When the EMS crew arrives at a crash, they are feeling the temperature of the wrecked race car(s) since ethanol fires burn odorless without any smoke. The combustion by-products of ethanol are carbon dioxide and water. Also, the horsepower potential from ethanol is lower when compared to that of other types of carbon-based fuels. But, one benefit of using ethanol fuel over carbon fossil fuels is the lower thermal heat generated from a racing engine.
Just like race car competitions, when we raced with the offshore Watt-Ahh boats (between 2009 and 2017) there was a growing trend to make all race vehicles within each class the same in both engine horsepower and fuel type so the driver/throttle skills (and safety) became the highest priorities. Using the same fuel for the Indy 500 and other races is part of this on-going trend but more on the sustainable energy side. Making ethanol fuel from either corn or sugarcane, however, typically involve consumptive processes using fossil fuels to grow and harvest crops.
As a great alternative, infusing DiTetra Gas into fuel, including biofuels, is even more renewable requiring less energy for production and will give greater engine performance and fuel economies.
All of the 2023 “Ahh! Climate” Series can be found here.
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