Motorsports Are Turning To Alternative Fuels

Mr Fusion powering a vehicle

As the world grapples with the issue of climate change, there’s a huge pressure to move transport away from carbon-based fuels across the board. Whether it’s turning to electric cars for commuting or improving the efficiency of the trucking industry, there’s much work to be done.

It’s a drop in the ocean in comparison, but the world of motorsports has not escaped attention when it comes to cleaning up its act. As a result, many motorsports are beginning to explore the use of alternative fuels in order to reduce their impact on the environment.

A New Focus

Historically, motorsports have paid little heed to things like emissions or efficiency. Instead, the focus was on generating the maximum possible power available, everything else be damned — barring excessive fuel consumption, which could necessitate extra pit stops. However, in recent decades, automakers and sponsors have desired to get away from this devil-may-care attitude, which can reflect poorly on them outside of the motorsports fan base.

Early moves towards cleaning up motorsports have seen Formula 1 begin using hybrid power units, as well as the establishment of all-electric series like Formula E. However, the world of motorsport is still almost entirely powered by fossil fuels, something which is only now beginning to show signs of change.

The Contenders

There are three main replacements for traditional fossil fuels that are slated for use in the world of motorsports. Biofuels, synthetic fuels (also known as e-fuels) and hydrogen are of great interest, as they promise to bring motor racing closer to a carbon-neutral ideal, at least when it comes to tailpipe emissions.


Hydrogen is one of the simplest “clean” fuels out there. Generating it is as simple as running electricity through water, and if you do so using renewable energy, congratulations! You’ve created a clean fuel without creating any carbon emissions, and burning it only creates water as a byproduct.

Typically, when we talk about hydrogen as fuel, we think of fuel-cell vehicles. These combine hydrogen with atmospheric oxygen to generate electricity to drive electric motors. However, there are louder, more exciting ways to use hydrogen, too. Internal combustion engines can be modified to run on hydrogen, producing comparable power outputs to similarly-sized petrol engines.

Hydrogen is already seeing use in motorsports. Toyota entered a Corolla Sport car with a hydrogen-burning engine in this year’s Fuji Super TEC 24 Hour race. The car completed the race successfully, though was only able to achieve 10 laps at a time before needing to refuel. Neither could the car refuel in the usual pitlane; the hydrogen tanks instead had to be topped off in a special area in the paddock. However, it served as a useful demonstration of hydrogen combustion engine technology.

The Gaussin H2 Racing Truck aims to spotlight the company’s efforts to build battery-electric and fuel-cell Class 8 trucks. Credit: Gaussin, press photo

On the other hand, Gaussin, a manufacturer of a variety of battery-electric and fuel cell vehicles, plans to take its H2 Racing Truck to compete in the 2022 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. The gruelling race takes place in the desert, with competitors travelling over 7000 km throughout the event. Support crews will have to truck hydrogen across the desert to support the effort in much the same way as race teams do with gasoline today. The H2 Racing Truck can be refuelled with 80 kg of hydrogen in under 20 minutes for a range of 250 km at racing pace. With fuel cells outputting 380 kW and a full 82 kWh of batteries on board, its twin 300 kW motors can accelerate the truck up to the rules-mandated maximum of 140 km/h.


Many of us are already familiar with biofuels, which have been used in the transport sector for years now. Bioethanol, typically produced from corn or other sugars or starches through fermentation, is often mixed with traditional gasoline in 10% and 85% blends, sold as E10 and E85 around the world. Biodiesel, on the other hand, is produced from oils or fats in a chemical process, with waste cooking oils, vegetable oils, or soy often used as a feedstock.

These fuels are considered more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels. This is because the plant-based feedstocks used to make the fuel capture carbon out of the air as they grow. This offsets the carbon output by vehicles that burn the fuel.

Refueling hose inserted into car
V8 Supercar refuelling with E85 fuel via Getty Images

Race series such as V8 Supercars in Australia and Indycar in the US have used E85 fuels for years now, with the fuel coming with a benefit of reduced detonation, allowing higher performance with the right engine tune. Meanwhile, NASCAR runs an E15 blend.

Diesel is less commonly used in motorsports, particularly since the Dieselgate fiasco spoiled the fuel’s environmentally-friendly brand. Regardless, a handful of teams have used biodiesel to fuel their racers over the years. Mazda did just that in the recent Super Taikyu race, filling its car with fuel derived from waste cooking oil and processed microalgal fats.


e-fuels, also known as electrofuels, are a relative new development. The basic idea is simple. Hydrogen, ideally split from water using renewable energy, is combined with carbon dioxide captured from the air, to make useful hydrocarbons that are drop-in replacements for the fuels we use today. Intense chemistry and plenty of electricity is required to complete the process.

Essentially, the idea is to take renewable electricity from sources like solar and wind, and store it in the chemical bonds of hydrocarbons to be released through combustion in the traditional way. Some e-fuels are intended to be direct drop-in replacements for petrol or diesel without requiring any engine modifications. This would allow regular cars to be run in a far more environmentally-friendly way, with the fuel production process capturing CO2 to offset vehicle tailpipe emissions.

By using water and captured CO2 as feedstocks, with renewable energy supplying the required electricity, to the process is theoretically carbon neutral, there or thereabouts. However, carbon capture is not a mature technology, nor particularly efficient. Plus, burning hydrocarbons of any sort in an internal combustion engine wastes a lot of energy as well. Generally, it’s far more efficient to simply store renewable energy in the batteries of an electric car, and use it that way, rather than turning it into fuel first, transporting it, and then burning it later. One study estimates that using renewable energy to make e-fuels for combustion engines leads to a total system efficiency of just 16%, versus 72% by just putting the electricity directly in an electric car.

Porsche has broken ground on a pilot plant in Chile, where abundant wind energy will help produce millions of liters of e-fuels by 2026. Credit: Porsche, press photo

Regardless, some manufacturers are still pursuing e-fuels. They have the attraction of working just fine in existing combustion engines, while going some length towards assuaging environmental concerns. Audi has been working on the technology. Fellow German automaker Porsche has also dived in, beginning construction this year on a pilot plant that hopes to produce 550 million liters of e-fuels per year by 2026. The project will combine hydrogen with air-captured CO2 to produce methanol, which will then be further processed into a synthetic e-fuel product. Meanwhile, the company is already testing lower-carbon fuels in its motorsports programs.

The hope is that these new fuels can cut carbon emissions by up to 90%, and go some way to allowing the cherished internal combustion engine to carry on some ways into the future. While they may be less clean than simply running electric cars, e-fuels could go a long way to enabling the existing combustion-engined fleet of vehicles to run more cleanly for years to come.


Alternative fuels are, at this stage, a great way for motorsports teams to polish up their environmental credentials. In a political moment when everyone is being asked to clean up their emissions, the world of motorsports needs to be seen to be doing its part, lest sponsors and automakers quickly abandon the sport in droves.

However, alternative fuels aren’t perfect, and typically only reduce carbon emissions rather than eliminating them entirely. They also don’t do anything to make up for the huge amount of emissions created flying race cars, drivers, and team members all over the world.

In any case, the technology will continue to be developed, and we may see these fuels become more mainstream in motorsports in future. With “cleaner” fuels like E85 already strongly establishing themselves, there’s clearly scope for more of the same in the future.

53 thoughts on “Motorsports Are Turning To Alternative Fuels

  1. “One study estimates that using renewable energy to make e-fuels for combustion engines leads to a total system efficiency of just 16%, versus 72% by just putting the electricity directly in an electric car.”

    But… this is for motorsports. Entertainment. System efficiency is pointless. I mean, if you think about it in terms of transport efficiency (I dunno, kilogram-miles per kWh or something?) motorsports have a system efficiency of zero with *any* fuel, because nothing’s actually being moved. I mean, I could point out that the *best* thing to do would be to get rid of the actual racing entirely and just go to simulated virtual reality environments. That’d take a ton less energy!

    If there’s a way to do gasoline-engine racing with zero net carbon emissions, it’s pointless to compare its “system efficiency” to electric vehicle racing. They’re totally different sports.

    1. To make it even worse, most of the emissions around a motorsport event are not even due to the race cars themselves. Most of the emissions will be from tens of thousands of spectators travelling to/from the event, the team trucks and airplanes bringing people and supplies, as well as the factories where the cars are made and all the factory workers.

      1. While you are quite correct you have to ask what alternative entertainment(s), and how bad they are – Motorsport, Football, Rugby, really doesn’t matter what all have that crowd cost, and all the costs associated with the broadcasting and viewing of it remotely. In many cases the viewing method being all online streaming is hideously bad compared to conventional broadcast…For instance you might end up doing instead something like track days and local motorsport (or less responsible unsanctioned street racing) – much worse than the watching of motor racing…

        Also if as Pat suggests you move to entirely simulated environments you have to ask just how much energy will be consumed creating them, it might well end up being significantly high – maybe even higher in damage than watching it happen for real as when its not ‘real’ people are more likely to I would think play the game virtually themselves, and quite likely have more time running at very high wattage for longer than the race consumed (yes e-sports are a thing now, but still pretty niche it seems, where more folks will play the game over watch it) – very hard to say, but even high efficiency gaming devices will be tens of watts, most will be 500-1000 while gaming, which sounds like nothing to the race cars fuel use, but there are only a few cars, not millions of watchers that might turn gamer. Gaming is going to be meaningfully more than the streaming and TV broadcast costs too, add up..

        In the end value of entertainment vs cost is very tricky to really pin down, and in many ways a pointless endeavor – the value of entertainment and the social bonds it creates are incalculably valuable in ways that have nothing to do with energy costs… So making your entertainment greener, and being aware of its costs is a very good thing, but unless its an insanely high cost form of entertainment better to worry about daily life’s basic costs that add up to much more than the entertainment does..

        1. “So making your entertainment greener, and being aware of its costs is a very good thing,”

          Yeah, but what I’m trying to say is “system efficiency” isn’t how you measure making it greener. It’s just carbon out, period. It doesn’t matter how much power the sport takes, that’s just what the sport *is*.

          I mean, even if the 16% efficiency was just electricity to fuel, that’d mean it’d take about 250 kWh per gallon of gasoline. That’s about $30/gallon. That’d cost the Daytona 500 about $150K, or 0.6% of the winner’s purse. And this is “system efficiency”, so it’s considering the ~50% ICE losses baked in already (cutting that number in half).

          Plus, as Artenz said, in terms of actual carbon footprint this whole thing’s negligible anyway, it’s the fans that dominate. But if they really wanted to minimize things as a public relations stunt, putting a solar array that pulls carbon and generates fuel by each racing stadium would be something. Doesn’t matter that it’s totally inefficient in terms of energy.

          1. There is more to ‘green’ than just carbon footprint…

            I also agreed entirely the fans tend to dominate the output, but the question is not if they do so, its what they would be doing instead – 20 Kg of CO2 for an enjoyable weekend of watching motor racing with a little bit of ancillary damage from litter, tyre and brake dust etc, vs maybe 35Kg of CO2 because they all were playing on 1Kw gaming monsters, racing in their virtual world online (probably for much longer than most motor races actually last over the weekend) making all the servers and network infrastructure work extra hard, or 50kg of CO2 because they went to a track day, so also produced more waste in tyre shredding etc, or 20Kg CO2 and half a Kg of litter as they went to the beach instead (as for some reason most folks going to beaches seem to be litter bugs while they are there).

            (just arbitrary numbers – the point being that hosting a sports event the crowds environmental impact for being there might well still be less than whatever else they would do if the event wasn’t there…)

            So really while motorsport should be pushing for invocations that improve general motoring, and inspire more folks to take up engineering – which is where that, in real world terms basically useless, fuel from air capture machine would be… As I said its probably not worth worrying about the sports cost, unless the sport has insanely high environmental cost – maybe its competitive forest burning or something else equally as stupid.

            While also pointing out the social bonds such events create are the glues that hold society together, and that has a value that is rather intangible and hard to put any numbers on, but undeniably important. Even for things like fighting climate change, human nature is to not care all that much about things out of sight that don’t effect themselves – but when they care about x or y person or place because it hosts or they competed in z event something that is half a world away effects them again – so they are motivated to try and fix/mitigate etc.

    2. Racing saves fuel by driving technology.

      Maximum power from a given amount of fuel is a common goal. At this point they could just waste fuel and they’d never use up the amount of fuel they’ve saved over the last 50 years.

      Government regs got you smog pumps and computer controlled carbs, racing got you EFI, turbocharging etc etc. All the good stuff was invented by crazed racers.

      1. Who’d have thought that tech originally developed to go fast could be tweaked to instead improve fuel economy and efficiency?
        And even then, motorsport is also about fuel economy, since more efficient engine means less fuel needed on-board (with the addition that races with refueling permitted can reduce pit-stops for refueling) and also allowing smaller fuel cells, which all means less weight.

        All that effort, repurposed so a car can do the same as cars of yesteryear, while sipping less chooch-juice.

  2. those one percent people, who own almost half the world is must be responsible for half of the total pollution, so the solution is to force them to pay up the damages that they made/making, then maybe the little people can think about what to eat, what to wear, what vacation they take, and what kind of vehicle they will use

    it is very logical if you think about it, lets say we have a machine with 100 modules and we know for sure that from 100 there is 1 module that causing half of the problems, and 99 modules causing the other half of the problems, so what is logically more sound, to fix only one module or fix 99 to achieve 50% increase in performance?

    1. The difficulty is that the 1% are also responsible for maintaining half the world’s social development.

      Think about it: what is a western post-industrial service economy but the lower classes singing and dancing to entertain the rich for money? Money does indeed trickle down – because the society keeps adding unnecessary functions and economic waste in order to pick holes in the pockets of those with the money. If the very rich suddenly lost their money, the system would come crashing down and everybody would be standing in line for social aid. That would eat up all the funds collected and not actually change the general situation anyhow.

    2. The what now? I mean apart form the assumption that the net worth of the 1% is in the form of currency or gold.

      From the story, “As the world grapples with the issue of climate change” is to be kind, optimistic. Consider that a minority of the World is even interested, let alone grappling. Just last month as the climate meeting was happening in Glasgow, the Chinese authorities said they are increasing coal production. How much? The extra production will be greater than the entire EU uses in a year. Basically they undid everything proposed at the conference. Just one decision from a Communist dictatorship. There will be many more.

      1. Well as China has been in a nearly shutdown state for a prolonged period after throwing a hissy fit at Aus and not buying their coal for a while, its hardly a surprise they want to increase production in their control – basic energy security, and as China is nearly entirely coal powered that right now means coal… It may or may not really mean anything worse for the world – if the Chinese stop buying import the nations exporting to them might end up leaving it in the ground… And as the EU has mostly stopped using Coal its no surprise its more than the EU uses in a year, heck with the scale of China and modern more energy intensive lifestyles it should not be a surprise if its more than the EU used at Peak coal consumption…

        If China never really gets on board with controlling their emissions it looks like by the recent flooding and location of most of their cities the climate change they are ignoring might well do the job for them – can’t pollute half as much if everywhere is turned off, broken, under water etc…

        I think at this point most of the world grappling with the issue is a very fair assessment – there are very few folks so isolated from the world, or poorly educated enough to not be somewhat looking at cleaning up their act, so the population of the world is mostly interested – with many of them already feeling the negative effects significantly enough to be unmissable, politicians might not be keeping up but their citizens I would suggest largely are…

        I don’t really disagree though, lots of depressing thoughts to go around with the way China likes to act. It most likely will cause much more hassle before changing its tune (if it ever does), and unlike any of the other more questionably ruled nations it is big enough, with enough control of its people to really bugger itself and the world up and keep churning right along making trouble for a long time – as the USSR did, they had broken themselves I would suggest a good 10 years before it really started to show to the outside world, long before they actually ceased to be.

        1. They are increasing production due to increasing demand for industrial electricity. They have not slowed down the state projects like Belt and Road and their new dams to control water into India and Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia (They have dammed the source of the Mekong and other strategic water supplies) and ports throughout Asia and Africa. And their 12,000 ship fishing fleet that Xi has declared to be part of the CCP military and fishes world-wide.

          Plus the back-ordered world-wide inventory demand has strained capacity. If the ports of LA and San Diego were not antiquated union pork operations protected by arcane laws and regulations and containers could flow both ways it would still take a couple years to catch up. 60% of all US imports come in through those two ports. If the container ships could fit the Panama Canal (Who runs the ports at each end of the canal?) it would be worth it to go to Texas or further east where modern port systems can handle the tonnage.

          1. You still need a sold backbone of reliable power or magic energy storage (as for such a big scale the techs for energy storage just are not ready – many of them are close, could do a great deal with it, but not run all the factories where a great quantity of the worlds goods are made and the cities holding all the workers level in an at all reasonable way), for which they use just about the dirtiest coal plants imaginable, putting in some renewable is great an all, but you do have to clean up your act overall, and so far China doesn’t seem to be really interested in doing so, more energy, cheap, seems to be the only real goal.

        2. “as the EU has mostly stopped using Coal”
          I seem to be living in some different EU then. Poland is mostly run by coal and Germany built *new* coal plants to make up for the reactors that will be shut down.

          1. Never said all of the EU has stopped using coal, but many of the previously big users of coal have cut back or entirely stopped using it now. – on the whole Europe is powered by Gas, Nuke and renenwables in something like that order

    3. Apart from the fact that CO2 is the gas of life and not pollution by any meaning of the word. The world needs more CO2 to be greener. CO2 has no role in climate let alone in the changes of climate.
      So if the 1% needs to do anything they need to increase emissions of CO2 by a large number. 10-fold is a good start since manmade emissions of CO2 are dwarfed by natural emissions.

      1. Wait, so CO2 *doesn’t* block IR from leaving the planet, thereby warming it? Wow, I guess all those physicists for the last 150 years were wrong! Also I guess Venus must actually be *cold*. Someone give [huls] a Nobel prize, he/she clearly knows something that we don’t.

        1. Indeed CO2 doesn’t block IR radiation. Your alarmists friends also don’t claim it warms the planet, they claim it warms the atmosphere which is physically impossible. If you know of a mechanism that supports that claim please let me and the world know.

          You have hit upon the central tenet of science when you write “I guess all those physicists for the last 150 years were wrong!” Please see the story of Galileo or read the book “hundred scientists against Einstein, or any other of the thousands and thousands of examples of scientific progress. Dogma’s are a part of religion, never of science.

          Your guess about the temperature of Venus has nothing to do with human-caused emissions of CO2 on Earth. Please stay on topic

          I am thankful for your call for a Nobel prize to be awarded to me. Although it is somewhat unexpected I do think you are on the right track there. Since you did not specify a category may I suggest: Peace?

  3. I wonder how much of the carbon footprint from professional motorsports comes from the motor vehicles used to transport the spectators to the race? My guess is that thousands of spectators burn more fuel than dozens of competitors, even though the competitors burn more fuel per mile driven.

    1. Indeed the fuel burned in the race cars’ engines is generally the smallest proportion of fossil fuel used in a race event, next to any small generators that may be powering timing booths, vendor stalls etc. The best reason by far to get race cars on alternative fuels is to use racing as a laboratory to improve alternative fuel technologies, getting good PR would be the 2nd best reason, and actual CO2 reductions are probably at the bottom of the list.

    2. The people who drive to these things would just drive somewhere else instead, they don’t say “well we are not gonna go to see the race, we will stay home and rake leaves instead”. If they decided to go to Disneyland or the beach, they might burn even more gas.

  4. I’m guessing the spectators at these eco-races are gonna be very hungry for fried food, with the stench of french fries hanging in the air. The food trucks can sell their used fryolator oil to the racers, win win for everyone. The best racers will run onion rings around the competition. The losers will have their gooses cooked in hot oil.

  5. “e-fuels, also known as electrofuels, are a relative new development”

    No, they aren’t. The Burgius process plants used by Nazi Germany produced a total of 11.4 million liters of synthetic fuel per day to power internal combustion engines.

    And the Fischer-Tropsch process has been around since 1923

  6. Why is recycling hydrogen so slow? 20 mins to move 80kgs seems slow?
    I guess rules prevent them just switching for pre-filed tanks, but is there a physics reason why it’s so slow to shift? Or is it just lots of safety checks?

  7. The point of e-fuels isn’t efficiency but low marginal cost and massive production volumes.

    Making more batteries faster costs money and requires massive expansion of the mining and refining industries, whereas making synthetic fuel allows the use of the existing infrastructure by converting refineries to renewable energy. After all, you get the main ingredients from the sea and from air, and the “pollution” is the same as the precursors – whereas the outcome from mining is irreversible damage to nature and gradual loss of materials out of the recycling chain (which doesn’t really even exist as of yet).

    Plus you might read up on Volvo’s discovery that manufacturing the XC40 electric costs 70% more CO2 than the gasoline version, and it takes up to 200,000 km to recover the difference (48k if the electricity is all renewable). That’s all because of the batteries. Even if it’s technically “better”, it’s hardly solving anything.

    1. Dude is that because the manufacturers of the components are using CO2-emitting devices/transport, or energy generated from fossil fuels?

      If we also closed the loop(s) here, could we eventually manufacture a car where there were very little emissions, perhaps just carbon in steel blast furnaces, and the fossil fuels for the plastics would stay locked up in the car.

      You could make it a rule that manufacturing only happens when the wind is blowing or sun is shining, rather than 24/7.

      1. In the end, if the loops can be closed, they should apply the same for both and the non-electric XC40 would still take significantly fewer resources to build, and both would probably still require the production of some kinds of e-fuels and various e-petroleum products in order to run all the processes.

        After all, if you have no oil then what would you use for the wheel bearing grease? Obviously we NEED the infrastructure that makes these chemicals in great volumes in order to be cheap enough to use, and the synergy benefits go towards e-fuels rather than batteries. We need to be able to make cheap synthetic gasoline in order to be able to make cheap synthetic bearing grease, at which point it doesn’t make sense to build expensive batteries for expensive electric cars. Who cares about the efficiency if it’s simply cheaper?

        1. “After all, if you have no oil then what would you use for the wheel bearing grease?”

          Whale oil, of course!

          (IIRC, whale oil was used for some purpose in the Apollo space program, because it was best at that particular purpose.)

          1. Yes there are renewable sources of grease (plenty left in my frying pan!) and also silicone grease and oils.

            But extracting some oil for grease doesn’t increase CO2 emissions much, as you aren’t _burning_ it.

            If you just used the extracted oil for lubricants and plastics, and tarmac for the really heavy constituents, that would be OK with me.

            The point about closing the loop is that all manufacture that is currently powered by electricity can go totally CO2 neutral, if you include making of the wind turbines, solar and hydro components. Whether you make an ICE car or an electric one, as you say.

    2. “The point of e-fuels isn’t efficiency but low marginal cost and massive production volumes.”
      “making synthetic fuel allows the use of the existing infrastructure by converting refineries to renewable energy. ”

      Is it wrong that my dumb ass just thought “why not just plop down a modern but small nuclear power plant besides the refinery?”
      I mean, it’ll take a lot of electrical energy (much much more that refineries of today uses) and that means electrical infrastructure to the refinery must be beefed up, in combination with the power sources.
      Power which would be better used for houses, and general businesses and industries.

      1. Nuclear electricity is much more expensive than wind and solar energy. The reason is because nuclear requires a lot of active and passive safety measures that really add up the cost.
        Placing a wind turbine in south Chile is going to give far cheaper electricity than that.
        And exporting that cheap electricity around the world is actually cheaper to do with E-fuels than by cables.

        The lower efficiency doesn’t matter when you factor in the much lower electricity costs used to produce e-fuels. Your local electrical grid is much more expensive.

        Also, since it is decentralized and global, the free market will ensure high competition and very low costs.

        And there is virtually no limit to how much renewable electricity we can make. It is all about making it profitable.

  8. @Lewin Day said: “As the world grapples with the issue of climate change…” Pffft – NOT!

    I don’t know what world you live in, but here on Planet Earth a climate change summit was recently held where high-brow Elite hypocrites flew in on heavily polluting private jets and pledged to destroy the economies of their own countries in the name of climate change.

    Meanwhile, the worst polluting countries on the planet didn’t even bother to show up at the summit. In fact just to make fun of the nose-high people at the climate change summit, the big polluters made announcements about new goals and projects that would dramatically INCREASE their own pollution!

  9. Isn’t the greatest spectacle in racing the Indy 500 run on alcohol? G knows. Indy Car uses an 85% ethanol fuel blend for its cars, and this has been the case since 2018. Before that, it used a 98% blend, and before that it used methanol instead.

  10. > it served as a useful demonstration of hydrogen combustion engine technology

    by showcasing half the range and refueling problems

    >Support crews will have to truck hydrogen across the desert to support the effort in much the same way as race teams do with gasoline today.

    will the support convoy also use hydrogen? and will there be a support-for-support convoy convoy driving behind them? :)

  11. Motorsport focusing on this benefits the development of tech more than anything.

    Reducing their impact on the environment is tiny but the tech that is developed is worth it. Alot of the hybrid tech has come from F1 developments.

    This is a good thing and worth doing.

  12. “Historically, motorsports have paid little heed to things like emissions or efficiency. Instead, the focus was on generating the maximum possible power available, everything else be damned — barring excessive fuel consumption, which could necessitate extra pit stops.”

    Think you’re missing a chunk of history there – extracting maximum power from an engine is exactly achieveing the best efficiency possible, and early motor racing was responsible for HUGE improvements in reliability, efficiency, and even (relative) safety with things like improved brakes, tyres, suspensions, lighting, and so on.

    Historic races like LeMans and the Mille Miglia and even the Dakar were all about pushing/promoting the reliability of a vehicle or components as much as the outright performance. Bentley built their reputation on “The Fastest Lorries In The World” at LeMans.

    Perhaps it’s easy if you’re in the US to look at drag racing or Nascar and come to the conclusion it’s purely about power and noise, but here in Europe where we are more about F1, Rally, Touring Cars, LeMans or the Dakar there’s a lot more focus on pushing the technology in every direction and it filtering down to the road cars.

    1. It’s not just history though is it?

      In F1 for example, efficiency is hugely important, because with higher efficiency you can drive the same distance with lower fuel. If you have lower fuel your cornering and acceleration is better. So the car lap times are lower, and you have a better chance of winning. It’s a virtuous circle.

      I’m sure there are similar optimisations in Nascar and Indie. It certainly plays a big part in current Le Mans 24h races, the less fuel you use, the shorter are your pit stops (because the fuel flow down the filling hose is limited).

  13. I soured somewhat on hydrogen fuel cells when I learned that while yes, you could make hydrogen with electricity, that’s not how it’s made in an industrial scale. On an industrial scale, it’s made from methane, usually from natural gas, with fairly low efficiency I guess. So in a very real way, hydrogen is still a fossil fuel, far more than electric is.

    1. As I understand it because of the superb efficiency of fuel cells at basically any scale and industrial scale efficiencies and cleanup of coal/natural gas to hydrogen its actually not that bad overall – yes its not turning the renewable oversupply into fuel and therefore about as clean and green as personal transport could be, but with the right style of infrastructure fossil fuel to hydrogen seems pretty efficient and much better emissions wise than burning the fuel for transport.

      P.S. most places don’t have near enough oversupply of renewables (or Nuclear) to make near enough hydrogen fuel for even a fraction of the transport energy requirements…

      P.P.S also developing and building fuel cells (once you solve a few of the tech problems like catalyst poisoning, rare material content) means you already have fuel cells ready to go for when fairly directly solar powered mass hydrogen production is more feasible, and if you solve the few longevity issues (that to me all look solvable, or just about acceptable as is) with them its feasible those cells could last damn nearly forever, potentially with no maintenance…

      I do agree with you that it isn’t as great as its often painted, but don’t be too sour on them yet..

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