One Summer day, at Phoenix Kart Raceway, my mechanic and I were looking at ways to increase the performance of the kart. We tried a number of different things. We tried an older chassis and then a newer one. We were trying to see which chassis would work best at the track where we were testing.
To enhance the engine performance, we tested different spark plugs. We mainly tried ones that would help increase the bottom end (Lower RPM) of the engine. When the kart was struggling to find grip, we changed the rims on the kart to ones that would give it either more rear grip, or better front end grip. We did this to help roll more speed and rotate around the corner faster. All of this testing made me think about how professional race teams look at increasing performance and efficiency of their race cars. Throughout my racing career, I have discovered there are many more jobs in the motorsport field than just being the driver. Being an engineer for the team and figuring out ways to make the car more efficient and faster is a serious career that interests me. People who are involved with racing know better than anyone that finding ways to be more environmentally friendly is a growing idea and requirement of the key investors and supporters of racing is very important to increase the world of eco friendly racing.
So it’s no surprise that the racing industry has already started to interact with this eco friendly focused world. Environmentally friendly hybrid engines as well as all electric engines are currently being run in many different series. Formula 1 cars run with a hybrid internal combustion engine coupled with two electric systems to produce the power for the car.
Formula e runs a series that is an all-electric car utilizing Lithium ion batteries to power the electric motors. Eventually I started to think more about the use of alternative fuels in racing and the question arose : Can Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) produced from livestock waste be used as a fuel in motorsports, and if so, what effect will the use of alternative renewable energy have on the motorsports industry as a whole?The most popular type of alternative fuel that car enthusiasts use is ethanol. Ethanol fuel is a type of biofuel that is created using corn and other plant materials. Ethanol is more widely available to consumers because the products used make it can be grown here in the United States. Since the products are easily grown, it classifies ethanol as a renewable source of fuel.
Embracing ethanol fuel has the potential to add jobs to any of the country’s economy. Some statistics project that ethanol fuel would cut the U.S. trade deficit by approximately $34.1 billion in the next few years. I believe that promoting the alternative fuel industry has the ability to create a lot of different green benefits, and sustainable green jobs. Unlike the standard fuel we use everyday, gasoline, ethanol has no carbon footprint. When it comes to the production of ethanol fuel its relatively cheap when compared to other forms of fuels.
The total amount of crop used to produce corn-based ethanol according to Michael Economides, a Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Houston says “In 2010 was about 4.77 billion bushels and roughly 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol were produced. This means 2.
77 gallons of ethanol are produced from each bushel of corn. This is a widely accepted number in the industry. At the recent corn price of around $7.00 per bushel, just the corn feedstock cost for corn-based ethanol should be about $2.
53 per gallon. On a similar alternative energy basis, the cost for corn-based ethanol is $3.80 per gallon of gasoline.” (Economides).
So what is the exact total to produce ethanol fuel? Given the lack of agreement on the method to determine how much corn ethanol attributes to corn price increases as well as many disagreements over how to calculate indirect land use, so the best estimate is “tens of billions of dollars” per year. Yet, this might not seem as significant as it seems when we consider the other side of the coin. In fact, most of the ethanol in the world is being produced in the domestic United States. Even the equipment used for large scale production of ethanol is not relatively expensive; hence, production of it makes economic sense. Car enthusiasts like ethanol fuel because it has the ability to increase performance while reducing emissions. There are more alternative types of energy in production.Biodiesel is a source of fuel produced from renewable products such as vegetable oils and animal fats.
One of the major selling points of biodiesel is that it is environmentally friendly and relatively cheap. How cheap really is it well according to Biofuel “For soybean oil that is converted to biodiesel, the EIA estimates that the cost for 2012/1013 will be about $2.06 per gallon if 50 million gallons are produced about $2.47 per gallon if 200 million gallons are produced” (Biofuel). The discrepancy in price due to scale arises from the fact that increased demand for soybean oil to produce biodiesel drives up the price of the feedstock. In either case, biodiesel tends to be more affordable than petrodiesel.
Biodiesel has fewer emissions than standard diesel, is biodegradable, and is a renewable source of energy. Emissions control is central to the biodiesel argument, especially in legislation matters. To reduce the emissions produced by diesel it’s said by Pacific Biodiesel, a production facility that biodiesel is a cleaner replacement “Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to successfully complete the EPA’s rigorous emissions and health effects study under the Clean Air Act. Biodiesel provides significantly reduced emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter, unburned hydrocarbons, and sulfates compared to petroleum diesel fuel. Additionally, biodiesel reduces emissions of carcinogenic compounds by as much as 85% compared with petrodiesel” (Pacific Biodiesel). The use of biodiesel has increased tremendously since the early 2000’s, because of its environmental benefits, ease of use, and available supply. In fact, most transportation vehicles in the United States use diesel fuel. Regular diesel fuel is a nonrenewable type of fuel made from petroleum.
Any type of vehicle that runs on diesel fuel can also use biodiesel as a different type of fuel source. Biodiesel also contributes to an engine’s lubricity, or its ease of movement. It acts as a solvent, which helps to loosen deposits and other things from the insides of an engine that could potentially harm the engine, and cause clogs. Since pure biodiesel leaves no deposits of its own, this also results in an increase of engine longevity. Biodiesel fuel can also be used with petroleum diesel in any blend without reducing the vehicle’s fuel economy. Although biodiesel can be used in its pure form, it is usually blended with standard diesel fuel.
In numerous cities across the United States, the personal automobile is the single greatest polluter, as emissions from millions of vehicles on the road continue to add up. Car pollution is one of the biggest problems facing the world environment at this current moment. The solution to this current problem is to have much more efficient vehicles that produce lower emissions with every mile and have availability of source. People think that to own an electric car it can have a high maintenance cost but Mary Campbell, a Fortune 100 publisher tells us otherwise “all of the electricity we use in America is domestically produced, and that’s a large part of why the cost remains stable.
The average cost of electricity in the US is 12 cents per kWh. Therefore, the average person driving the average EV 15,000 miles per year pays about $540.00 per year to charge it.” Electric cars or ECs, are vehicles that are powered by an electric motor instead of a standard internal combustion engine. They use electricity as the “fuel” instead of gasoline or some other form of combustible fuel. The power for the vehicle is stored in many large batteries in the bottom of the car, then from there the power goes to straight to a power regulator where it is changed from DC power to AC power.
This engine only has one single moving part, which sends the power directly to the four wheels. Therefore, it does all the primary functions of a gas engine with zero emissions. With technology like this, one might guess who will jump on the electric vehicle bandwagon right away. The major auto manufactures Tesla, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, as well as many foreign companies are currently producing high-performance electric vehicles in a wide range of styles and sizes. Electric vehicles are today’s zero-emission vehicles; they are environmentally friendly.
The EC releases no pollutant because it has no tailpipe. Therefore, making it safe for the environment. Instead of gas stations, ECs get their “fuel” from electric power charging stations. An electric powered engine has many eco benefits over a gas engine in the comfort department as well. ECs will offer a more quiet fume-free, smooth driving experience than a normal gasoline car.
In the end, I have figured out how there are multiple ways to reduce car emissions, create jobs and even apply my thinking to racing. For instance I found out that environmentally friendly hybrid engines as well as all electric engines are currently being run in many different car series. If we continue to promote, the alternative fuel industry it will have the ability to create a lot of different green benefits, and sustainable green jobs.