THE FUEL OF LE MANS AND THE WEC
Total petroleum products have won more than 100 world titles in almost half-a-century’s participation in motorsport. These results include 27 titles in Formula 1 for the Group’s fuels, counting half of the titles awarded in the last 12 years. Total is going to invest all this knowhow in its partnership with the ACO.
Regulations currently in force in the FIA World Endurance Championship, applicable until June 2020, require the use of E20 unleaded petrol. Such a fuel contains 20% ethanol of the second generation, in other words, derived from vegetable waste, not fruit, so as to avoid putting pressure on the food chain. This fuel is derived from straw, sugar cane bagasse and agricultural waste stalk and leaf, as well as from forest waste or waste from the timber and paper industries and specially grown fuel crops.
This renewable, or “lignocellulosic”, biomass resource then undergoes various biochemical treatment processes to extract the sugar, which is then fermented, using enzymes and yeasts, to give 2G ethanol. Since 2008, Formula 1 regulations have imposed an obligation to include 5.75% (w/w) non-fossil compounds in the lead-free petrol used in Grand Prix events.
Total has carried out a great deal of research in this area, which can now be of benefit to the WEC, with an objective that is more ambitious, if only with regard to the current fuel, since the proportion of renewable compounds is 20%. Moreover, this racing fuel possesses a high octane number (RON* of 105), a feature that ensures optimisation of both compression ratios and ignition settings of turbocharged engines to improve their output. By way of comparison, the octane number of high-performance fuel available to motorists at the pump is 98 RON.