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One of the most interesting entries at Le Mans in 2003 is the Reynard LMP 900 entered by Team Nasamax. At first sight this appears to be a two year old car that did not have a particularly glorious past. The interest is in the power unit which is a green fuel powered Turbo charged Cosworth V8 based on the Cosworth Indy engine. This is I believe a similar engine to that used by Multimatic in the Grand Am series in 1999/2000 in a Lola Chassis but it was then conventionally fuelled. The strength of the engine should not be a problem as in Indy form it produced towards 1000 bhp so at the approximate 600 bhp limit of the LMP900 class it should be relatively unstressed. My thanks to Team Nasamax for the information provided in this article.
About the Reynard LMP900
Green fuel challenges fossil fuel at the world’s most famous race for the first time
Team Nasamax is entering the world's first wholly renewably fuelled prototype racing car for the Le Mans 24 Hours race in June this year.
Team Nasamax has been formed to demonstrate to the world that renewable fuels can compete in the high technology arena of international motorsport.
These fuels, produced from crops, virtually eliminate the release of CO2 into the atmosphere.
The chosen fuel is bio-ethanol, produced from agricultural produce. With ASTEK technology and know-how, this fuel burns cleanly and further reduces the emission of normal exhaust pollutants into the atmosphere, whilst producing the power that Team Nasamax need to compete effectively against some of the best fossil-fuel powered racing cars in the world.
The Kent-based team, with a core of experienced scientific and racing personnel, is the combination of 18 months co-operation and research into energy-efficient green technologies. A Reynard LMP 900 powered by a Cosworth engine fuelled by bio-ethanol raced in the premier class at the Sebring 12 hours in March and will race in the Le Mans 24 Hours in June. This is the first renewably fuelled sports prototype racing car to be entered into a premier world class motor sport event.
Nasamax has two main development partners. Applied Sciences Technologies, ASTEK, specialists in energy production from renewable fuel sources and the production of the fuel.
Team Nasamax will also use the ASTEK-developed NBS (automatic Nitrogen Blanketing System) for the first time in a racing car, which prevents fuel tank explosions, significantly increasing motorsport safety. This system is similar to those used in commercial aircraft.
The other development partner is Cosworth Racing, now owned by Ford, who are renowned for their Formula One engine development for teams such as Jaguar and Jordan as well as for the WRC Rally programme. Cosworth has developed a 2.65 Litre V8 turbo-charged engine specifically for this factory-supported programme. This XDE engine will be used exclusively by Team Nasamax.
"This is the first time for years Cosworth Racing has been involved on a factory support basis in sportscars. To be represented in the top class at one of the greatest races in the world - Le Mans - is extremely exciting for us. It also marks the first time we have used renewable fuel, bio-ethanol, in a racing engine and it is very exciting to be spearheading this technology," explains Nick Hayes, Managing Director, Engineering, Cosworth Racing
Testing continued at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit in February. Drivers included Romain Dumas, successful Le Mans, F3 and F3000 driver who recently tested for the Renault F1 team. At Le Mans the car will de driven by Dumas, Robbie Stirling and Werner Lupberger who has replaced Bryan Herta who drove at the test weekend.
Team Nasamax developments guarantee that it remains at the forefront of innovative 'green' technology ensuring a firm foothold in the future of international motorsport.
PROFILES OF THE PARTNERS OF TEAM NASAMAX
Team Nasamax was founded by Tony King, a wealthy Hong Kong environmentalist, financier and sportsman. It is a motorsport development company specifically created to develop, advance and apply the use of energy efficient, renewable and sustainable technologies in international competition. Team Nasamax has developed the programme concept and logistics.
ASTEK is a research and development company that specialises in renewable and sustainable 'green' technologies. ASTEK has developed proprietary technology relating to the use of alternative fuels in internal combustion engines and the development of renewable energy systems and infrastructures, together with advanced methods for the production of Bio Ethanol from cellulosic materials.
ASTEK has also developed the Nitrogen Blanketing System (NBS), similar to systems used in the aircraft industry. The use of this on a racing car is a world first and will be a major improvement in safety for motor racing.
COSWORTH RACING is wholly owned by Ford Motor Company, USA, and is a world leader in the design, development and manufacturer of ultra high performance engines for racing, rally and road car applications. Cosworth Racing provides power plant technology and design solutions for premier teams in Formula 1, World Rally, CART (USA) and motorbike racing, as well as racing engine technology transfer to the Premier Automotive Group of Ford Motor Company.
The Reynard LMP900
The Team Nasamax LMP 900 Sports Prototype is based on the Reynard 01Q-01, which was
the final development of the original 2KQ, and proved to be a highly successful, efficient
and reliable car.
Engine - 2.65 litre V8 single turbo charged
Fuel - bio-ethanol (neat)
Transmission - rear wheel drive
Gearbox - XTrac, inboard, transverse, sequential 6-speed
Clutch - AP, 4 plate metallic
Chassis - Reynard 01Q-01
Suspension - double wishbones, coilover and pushrods
Brakes - AP Hitco Carbon
Body - carbon fibre and aluminium honeycomb
Length - 4590mm, Width - 1990mm
Wheelbase - 2730mm
Front Overhang - 900mm, Rear Overhang - 1020mm
Weight - 900Kg
Fuel Tank Capacity - 90 litres
Regulations - Category LMP 900 Le Mans Prototype 900Kg
The latest state-of-the-art technology from Applied Sciences Technology (ASTEK) enables Team Nasamax to distinguish itself from the rest of the field in two critical areas.
1. Detailed knowledge and procedures for the production and preparation of the bio-ethanol fuel that powers the Team's LMP900 racing car, incorporating fuel storage and handling systems that apply innovative technologies developed by ASTEK for the commercial aviation industry, preventing and suppressing fire by covering the stored fuel with a blanket of inert nitrogen.
2. ASTEK developmental know-how and application experience with its proprietary high efficiency combustion systems technologies, as used for the production of renewable electricity, enable not just operation on alternative bio-fuels, but the production of power at the levels that Nasamax needs to compete effectively against some of the best fossil-fuel powered motor vehicles in the world.
TEAM NASAMAX TECHNICAL INSIGHT - MORE ANSWERS ABOUT THE GREEN FUEL TECHNOLOGY ON CAR 01 AT THE SEBRING 12 HOURS
OK, SO WHAT'S BIO ETHANOL?
The BIO indicates that the ethanol is produced from vegetation as opposed to synthetically manufactured from petroleum products.
WHAT'S ETHANOL, ANYWAY?
Ethanol is alcohol. In fact, it's 'the' alcohol in alcoholic drinks. Beer would be 3% ethanol content, wine 13%, scotch is 30%. The ethanol used in the race car is 205% proof, which is a bit too strong to drink neat! In fact, the fuel used by law has to have a very small percentage of other harmless bio-chemicals added to prevent people making drinks from it.
Our technical partner ASTEK specialises in advance technology for the manufacture of bio-ethanol from materials such as wood, bio-wastes, and other low-value agricultural produce. In the USA, for instance, bio-ethanol is commonly manufactured from corn.
At the moment, producing ethanol from corn is relatively expensive and ASTEK's expertise is focussed on economic production of ethanol from low-value bio materials. Using this type of low cost material does not use up valuable food crops for the production of fuel. The idea of growing fuel is not new - before motor transport, farmers used to grown hay and oats for the horses!
Ethanol is going to be used in increasing quantities as an addition to gasoline to improve combustion. Being a renewable fuel, it also makes a 'green' contribution to the industry. Environmental pressures are forcing this to happen. Its appearance in motorsport is timely; ethanol could (and probably should) become more widely used as a motorsport fuel in the near future.
WHY DO YOU NEED TO USE MORE FUEL WITH ETHANOL THAN
YOU WOULD WITH GASOLINE?
You cannot compare the two fuels, it's like apples and pears. The critical thing is how efficiently you release the energy that is available in the fuel. A teaspoon of sugar has a certain amount of energy. If you dissolve it in a small amount of water and drink it, you've drunk a teaspoonful of sugar. You could dissolve it in a larger amount of water and drink it - and you've still consumed a teaspoonful of sugar! The energy consumed is the same, but the volume is greater. If we're talking efficiency, all that matters is the energy consumed and not the volume.
Contd/…TEAM NASAMAX TECHNICAL INSIGHT - MORE ANSWERS ABOUT THE GREEN FUEL TECHNOLOGY ON CAR 01 AT THE SEBRING 12 HOURS
Ethanol has less energy per unit volume than gasoline. So, just like the sugar in the water, to consume the same amount of energy as gasoline you need more volume. The efficiency of combustion in our engine is actually slightly better than gasoline engines, in other words it uses the energy in the fuel more efficiently. Different gasolines have different energy values, which is why racing regulations strictly control the specification of the gasolines used to ensure energy equivalence for each competitor.
WHAT WOULD MAKE A BIO-ETHANOL CAR EQUIVALENT TO A
GASOLINE CAR IN THE SAME CHAMPIONSHIP?
It's not the volume of fuel that matters, it's the total amount of energy you're allowed to carry. We have agreed to run at a disadvantage for this season to show that this fuel is viable in motorsport. For the future, there is an easy way to make the bio-ethanol fuelled cars equivalent in performance to gasoline cars in the regulations. Equivalence can be based on energy, not volume of fuel. To be equally competitive, the bio-ethanol fuelled cars need to be able to run the same stint times. Therefore, the easiest way is to simply change the capacity of the fuel tank to equate the energy stored in the two different fuels. The next thing to match is the time needed for the pit stops. Bio ethanol cars will be putting in more fuel each time. So a change to the flow rate of the fuel going in makes the pit stops the same time as well.
WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE TO THE CAR?
Apart from the obvious fuel delivery rate changes, there are fuel system modifications to cope with higher fuel flows, the materials selection for fuel compatibility, inlet air management and delivery systems, turbo charger and injection specifications, ignition timing, The whole way the fuel and air is delivered to the engine, and the engine specification itself, differ substantially when using bio-ethanol.
IS THE CAR DIFFERENT TO DRIVE?
The Nasamax prototype drives in the same way as other sports prototypes, apart from smelling nicer and being considerably quieter.
WHAT'S IT LIKE WORKING WITH BIO-ETHANOL?
There are no negative sides to it. We're always surrounded by the nice smell of alcohol! Bio-ethanol is less flammable than gasoline, it is not toxic, which gasoline is, and it's green. We like it!
CAN YOU EXPLAIN SIMPLY HOW USING BIO-ETHANOL DOES NOT ADD CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS TO THE ATMOSPHERE?
When any fossil fuel carbon is burned it causes a release of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Fossil fuels are made from layers and layers of organic matter transformed over tens of millions of years into black goo and gas.
To absorb all the carbon dioxide released by burning fossil fuels, we would have to plant the equivalent vegetation matter that produced the fossil fuel in the first place, as we can see this would take millions of years. Therefore fossil fuel combustion makes a net addition to the CO2 in the atmosphere.
However, if we plant a crop and use it for fuel, and as long as we plant another crop to replace it, the amount of carbon released on burning fuel will be sequestered by the new crop as it grows. Notice we use the word amount here, ie mass of CO2, because obviously the actual CO2 released from the renewable fuel is not sequestered by the new crop. It does not matter where the CO2 sequestered by the new crop comes from, the net result is neutral: there is no addition of CO2 to the atmosphere.