Nothing ventured, nothing…

Recently, we introduced you to an evolving project that included the use of EFI and alternative fuels (notably E85 and cellulosic ethanol) as applied to a racing gasoline-fueled, carbureted engine of the circle track variety.  At the conclusion of our discussion, we posed a few questions that had preliminarily seemed not only daunting but possibly deal breakers.  Following are some updates on not only those questions but a quick review of the project’s results up to now.  You may find some of this information surprising and, quite possibly, enlightening.

By way of quick review, there were several objectives.  Among them was a possibility that switching from carburetion to EFI might improve on-track performance of the engine.  There was also an intention to compare an alternative fuel to racing gasoline, in the same environment.  While E85 was initially chosen as the first alternative, cellulosic ethanol is on the list to be used.  Just to clarify, E85 is typically a blend of petroleum (15%) and corn-based ethanol (85%).  Cellulosic ethanol is a renewable fuel that can be produced from a variety of feed-stocks that include non-food sources such as agricultural waste and certain forms of grass.  It also does not require chemicals and energy to grow or become available (as does corn-based ethanol) and does not contain any petroleum-based ingredients.   Regarding the CT project, the question was how will these type fuels perform in an everyday racing engine, particularly when delivered by EFI.

There was also the issue of how exhaust emissions might be affected by the use of this engine package, so a portable emissions measuring system (PEMS) was inserted into the project, just for that purpose.  Understand that the system used (from Sensors, Inc.) is not your garden-variety, 5-gas sniffer for tailpipes.  Rather, it’s a full-blown, laboratory-quality emissions data acquisition system that can be brought on board a race car…and was, for the purposes of this project that was first aired in the magazine approximately nine months ago.

Now back to the closing questions.  Did GM choose to be a participant?  In a word, yes.  Did the readership become critical of the project?  On the contrary, because the clear majority (among those who responded) supported the effort.  What about the magazine’s publishing company?  Total support.  How about participation from the regulatory side of the equation?  Actively engaged, as you read this, by donating staff time and direct involvement.  So the project has legs of substance.  But just so you can draw some conclusions of your own, here’s a sampling of a few results thus far.  Be assured there will be more as the activity continues to unfold.