Sunday, August 14, 2011

Is Ethanol Turning NASCAR Green?

NASCAR is using an ethanol blend fuel this year at its races. A special blend of high octane E85 (15% ethanol, 85% gas) is being used. It is being touted as part of NASCAR's push towards a more green footprint. That push is part legitimate effort, part public relations.

An expected, but not publicized result of this has been a reduction of fuel mileage by about 15% in NASCAR races. A car that used 100 gallons of gasoline last year uses 115 gallons of E85 this year to go the same distance.

NASCAR will start using fuel injection next year. After decades of staying with antiquated, but well understood carburetors on its engines, teams will be forced to go to the large expense of changing to injectors. One of the selling points the series is using for this change is an increase in fuel mileage of about 15%.

So, fuel consumption comes out as the same as it was last year, before E85 signed a marketing agreement with NASCAR. A 'greener' solution would have been to use gasoline with injection, resulting in higher mileage ad lower fuel use.

It just strikes me as ironic that with all this green and high technology going into the sport, the end result is a wash, fuel wise ...

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