ETRC will be the first FIA series to use renewable fuel
06. April 2021Following its sitting on 9 October last year, the FIA World Motor Sport Council made it known that HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) diesel of the latest generation will be introduced in the European Truck Racing Championship this season. The exact fuel specification has yet to be announced, but it’s expected that a single official supplier will be nominated.
The introduction of biodiesel is a topic of considerable interest to the truck racers and has been discussed on numerous occasions over the last decade. While the race engines themselves have gotten cleaner through continuous technical development, there have nevertheless been increasingly strident calls for more to be done towards environmental protection.
Any number of biodiesel manufacturers have attempted to get a foot in the door, but despite lengthy negotiations nobody no decisions where made till now.
Meanwhile, biodiesel itself has acquired more significance – pump diesel all over Europe now contains 7 percent of biodiesel as a blendstock, and a diesel fuel with a bio content of only 30 percent may now be marketed as biodiesel.
Manufacture of classical biofuels, including HVO of the first generation, was based on renewable feedstocks, but largely on food crops. There’s been no end of controversy over this model, in which large areas of agricultural land were turned over to the cultivation of oilseeds for biodiesel, which farmers saw as more lucrative. In more recent years the eco cred of biofuels has been badly bruised in the outcry against the extensive clearing of rainforest for mega-industrial-scale oil palm plantations.
But the current state of the HVO art has very little in common with the first generation – the feedstocks today are primarily waste materials from the food industry such as spent cooking oil, nonedible trimmings from meat and fish processing, and residues from animal feed production.
HVO is a drop-in fuel that requires absolutely no modification of the engine, has excellent ignition properties, and burns cleanly without forming soot, all the while delivering the same performance and energy efficiency as the best available petroleum diesel.
The most widely distributed brand of HVO is advertised to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from heavy duty diesel engines by up to 90 percent.
Of particular interest to truck racers is the extremely high cetane number (between 70 and 90), indicative of superior engine performance characteristics reflected in its ignition properties and combustion stability, and lower emissions of white smoke, noise, carbon monoxide, and unburnt hydrocarbons compared to petroleum diesel. (Pump diesel has an average cetane rating of 54 and premium variants up to 60.)
Following the WMSC’s most recent announcement, the European Truck Racing Championship is set to become one of the cleanest racing series on the FIA calendar.