Formula 1 sparks creation of synthetic petrol, to replace fossil fuel

Here is a good break from a ton of news on electric vehicles, battery packs and charging infrastructure. Formula 1 is set to not only continue racing with internal combustion hybrid engines into the next decade, but also lead the creation and usage of fully synthetic, sustainable fuels.

Based on data obtained by Formula 1, it is estimated that there will be 1.8 billion cars on the road by 2030, with only 8% (approx. 145 million units) of those are pure battery EVs (BEV) with internal combustion engines continue to be essential to air, sea as well as the logistics industry.

BMW still very happy with having combustion engines in their line-up, no plans to bid farewell yet.

As such, the pinnacle of motor racing is spearheading the development of 100% sustainable ‘drop-in’ fuel. They are also actively in discussions with fuel companies, such as Aramco, about creating the fuel for the racing series as well as then scaling up production for public consumption.

The creation of a 100% sustainable ‘drop-in’ fuel also eases the transition as it will be engineered to be a direct replacement for use in current combustion engines without any modifications whilst delivering the same power. Based on simulations, the sustainable synthetic fuel is able to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 65%, thanks to production using a combination of sources including carbon capture from the atmosphere, waste and non-food biomass.

Porsche has begun a pilot project with the manufacturing and usage of nearly CO2-neutral fuels. From next year, the Porsche Supercup one-make race will debut the use of fully synthetic fuel that is manufactured in Chile.

Sustainable methanol is produced using electrolysed hydrogen (from water) and CO2 from the atmosphere with energy capture from low-cost wind power. The renewable methanol is then converted into climate-friendly fuel using an MTG (methanol to gasoline) technology licensed and supported by ExxonMobil.

Petronas widely uses the pinnacle of motorsports like MotoGP and F1 to test new fuels. Find out why the Primax 97 with Pro-Race is their best fuel yet.

Toyota meanwhile has been actively racing a modified turbocharged 1.6-litre engine from the Toyota GR Yaris that is only fuelled with hydrogen. The Japanese auto giant also believes moving to just fully electric propulsion is not a practical solution.

Image credit: Redbull Content Pool

As for Formula 1, it currently mandates the use of E5 petrol blend, consisting of 5.75% ethanol and the rest from crude oil. For the next three years, the engine specifications are frozen and also run on a slightly richer blend of bio-fuel, increasing to 10% or E10. Formula 1 also hopes the direction to fully synthetic fuels will attract new automakers into the series such as Porsche and Audi.

The global racing series that travels up to 21 countries across five continents plans to have the motorsport series be net zero carbon (carbon neutral) from 2030.


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