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Splash & Go writes:
"Green Flag: Ethanol"
Posted by Uptight Motorsports Nerd on November 20, 2010
Viewed 305 times


I don?t care for using the word ?green? in reference to the environmental movement, but you must admit that when applied to racing, it makes a pretty sweet pun. This post marks the start of a 4ish-part series of blogs devoted to alternative fuels in racing.

NASCAR has already announced its intention to introduce ethanol fuel into the Sprint Cup Series for next year. This is not a particularly radical change as fuel will still be 85% gasoline. Traditional NASCAR fans may recognize ethanol as an infamous clear liquid that burns with a blue flame. The biggest change fans will notice is that large exhaust flames will make a comeback. If you have been watching closely (and maybe sitting too close to the screen) you would know that exhaust flames from unburned fuel started downsizing in 2008 with the introduction of unleaded gasoline. Teams will have to invest in sturdier fuel lines, but that?s the extent of the upgrades.

IndyCar is poised to move in the opposite direction. Now that Randy Bernard has landed an official fuel supplier in Sunoco, their fuel will switch to an 85% ethanol-15% gasoline blend in 2012. I imagine that the only real change to come with that would be a decrease in the size of fuel tanks to compensate for the fact that gasoline contains more energy per volume.

Before someone complains about reduced fuel mileage from using alcohol based fuels, consider that the difference in price is proportional to the difference in energy; therefore it costs the same amount of money to travel the same distance. Thanks to cellulosic ethanol, we no longer need to have that annoying food vs. fuel debate.

A few years back I recall reading a shareholder proposal submitted to Ford Motor Company asking that the company no longer devote resources to researching alternative fuels or high efficiency engines because the shareholder in question believed global warming to be a hoax. The board of directors responded with a statement about what benefits the research could have for future company products regardless of the effects of climate change. Here?s a simpler way to phrase that: whether global warming is real or imagined, there?s a way to profit from it.

Stay tuned for ?Green Flag: Hybrids & KERS? whenever I get around to it.

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