F1's biofuel properties will open new power battle

Formula 1's switch to biofuels with its new generation of cars looks set to trigger a surprise development battleground thanks to a change it brings in engine cooling characteristics.

F1's biofuel properties will open new power battle

As part of F1's push for sustainability, new rules – which were originally coming in 2021 but have now been delayed – will require teams to run their engines with a 10% blend of advanced sustainable ethanol.

Work has already begun among F1's fuel suppliers to optimise the potential of the biofuel, and Ferrari's technical partner Shell has revealed a fascinating characteristic of the new product.

It believes that a cooling characteristic of ethanol could open up some interesting development directions for F1 that could prove decisive in the battle for glory.

Shell's F1 development manager Benoit Poulet told Motorsport.com: "The interesting aspect of the car performance is similar to when you put a [ethanol based] cooling gel on your fingers – you can feel the cooling effect that you get. It will be the same for the engine.

"It will be able to cool some parts of the power unit and that could be quite beneficial. We are working hard on it.

"The properties are certainly quite interesting for combustion, and I think we can do some interesting things. We have definitely found at the moment that this cooling effect is good for the engine."

Ethanol delivers the cooling benefit because it has nearly three times the heat of vaporisation as regular fuel – which means there is a cooling effect for the incoming charge during the combustion cycle. A cooler intake charge means that engine power will increase.

Engine manufacturers could chase this straight horsepower gain, or could opt to change the overall design and cooling characteristics to run the engine at a different temperature. This could then have a knock-on effect for the car's aerodynamics.

Benoit said that Shell has been working on the new biofuel ever since the regulations came out last year.

"It's a big challenge but we are really happy to switch to E10 fuel – and to be honest we would be happy to have even more than 10%," he said.

"We have people working on the project, and people who are familiar with E10. And it's a big change because ethanol comes with some different properties to the other hydrocarbons.

"Because of that, we really decided to start early. It's a bit like the chassis people; we started as soon as the regulation was published. On project management, I allocated one person full time on that question and now we have got a good understanding in terms of the benefit of E10."

The use of more biofuel in F1 was originally set for 2021, but a recent move to delay the new regulations because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic means the requirement could be moved back until 2022.

shares
comments
Canadian GP boss "optimistic but realistic" about race

Previous article

Canadian GP boss "optimistic but realistic" about race

Next article

Gallery: All of Ayrton Senna's F1 race wins

Gallery: All of Ayrton Senna's F1 race wins
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams Prime

How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams

Formula 1’s latest Imola adventure turned into an expensive trip for many teams due to several crashes throughout the weekend. While balancing the books is an added factor in 2021 with the cost cap, a few midfield teams have cashed in early on development investments.

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings

A frantic wet race at Imola produced plenty of excitement and drama as drivers scrabbled for grip. Amid the hatful of mistakes and incidents that ensued, who kept their noses cleanest?

How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves Prime

How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves

Rain before the start of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix promised to spice up the action, and the race certainly delivered on that. Max Verstappen got the best launch to win from Lewis Hamilton, but both got away with mistakes that could have had serious consequences

The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era Prime

The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era

The first in a line of world beaters was designed in a back bedroom and then constructed in a shed. STUART CODLING recalls the Tyrrell 001

Formula 1
Apr 18, 2021
Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola Prime

Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola

While Mercedes struck back against Red Bull by topping the times at Imola on Friday ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the overall picture remains incredibly close. Despite having a possible edge this weekend, the reigning Formula 1 world champion squad is not taking anything for granted...

Formula 1
Apr 16, 2021
What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track Prime

What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track

Mercedes may find itself leading the drivers' and constructors' standings after Lewis Hamilton's victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but it is well aware that it came against the odds, with Red Bull clearly ahead. Here's what the Brackley team must do to avoid its crown slipping .

Formula 1
Apr 16, 2021
The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate Prime

The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate

It's been a tough start to Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin F1 career, with a lack of pre-season testing mileage followed by an incident-packed Bahrain GP. But two key underlying factors mean a turnaround is no guarantee.

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The themes to watch in F1's Imola return Prime

The themes to watch in F1's Imola return

Three weeks is a long time in Formula 1, but in the reshaped start to the 2021 season the teams head to Imola to pick things up after the frenetic Bahrain opener. Here's what to look out for and the developments to follow at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021