While electrification is the big move by the auto industry to achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible, there are also parallel efforts by the FIA (the world motorsport governing body) to reduce the environmental impact of motorsport and motorized mobility. The efforts of the organization apply a science-based target reduction plan aligned with the Paris Agreement 1.5°C objective.
One of the strategies is the introduction of 100% sustainable fuel for Formula 1 in 2025. This fuel will have zero net carbon dioxide emissions. The use of this fuel in motorsports could be a savior for internal combustion engines (ICE) if the technology can be widely commercialized for roadgoing vehicles. If this can happen, then the days of the ICE could be extended a bit more while meeting demands to stop carbon dioxide emissions.
While the use of sustainable fuels in F1 has already been committed, there are also other parties in the motorsport community that are supporting the effort. Prodrive, the British motorsport specialist that developed championship-winner cars for the Subaru World Rally Team, will support one of the first major teams in the world to compete with a new generation of advanced sustainable fuels in an FIA championship. The championship is the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies that will run later this year.
The Prodrive-run Bahrain Raid Xtreme (BRX) team will then use this fuel at the Dakar rally in January to demonstrate that such sustainable fuels can be used as a direct replacement for fossil fuels in standard production vehicles.
Prodrive has developed the sustainable fuel over the past 8 months in conjunction with UK-based, Coryton Advanced Fuels. Called Prodrive ECOpower, it has been specifically developed to demonstrate the environmental benefits of the latest sustainable fuel technology. The main components are generation 2 biofuel, manufactured from agricultural waste, and efuels created by capturing carbon from the atmosphere. As a result, the fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to equivalent petrol.
“I am a great advocate of motorsport taking the lead in developing, proving and promoting new technologies that can help address climate change. Covering thousands of miles across the toughest terrain, the Dakar and the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies are the perfect environment to showcase the benefits of the next generation of sustainable fuels and demonstrate that they can be used in road vehicles to reduce the use of fossil fuels, while still offering the same performance and range,” said Prodrive Chairman, David Richards.
The fuel has been developed at Prodrive’s powertrain facility in England and has been run in the BRX team’s Prodrive Hunter T1+ car in the same unmodified engines which previously ran on petrol. While Prodrive ECOpower has been developed for motorsport use, this sustainable fuel can be used as a direct replacement for unleaded petrol in almost any vehicle and the company is planning to run a near identical fuel in a number of its road vehicles to further prove out the technology.
The Hunter T1+ has been specifically designed to compete at the tough Dakar Rally in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and in cross-country rallies across the world. The 4-wheel drive car can travel over almost any type of terrain, from sand dunes to rocky mountain tracks, and at high speeds. Over the 2 weeks of the Dakar, it will cover more than 7,500 kms.
The BRX team has carried out extensive testing in the UK and is now heading to the Middle East for more extensive endurance work in the same conditions it will experience at the rally. The team will then compete at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and Hail Rally before heading to the Dakar which starts on the first day of 2022.