Formula 1 Aims to Run Its Cars on 100% Sustainable Fuel by 2025

In a bid to save the internal combustion engine.
Chris Young

Formula 1 aims to keep the internal combustion engine alive for as long as possible by developing a 100 percent sustainable drop-in fuel, a press statement reveals. The term "drop-in" refers to the fact that the fuel can be used in existing engines without the requirement of any machine modifications.

The racing series' organizers say their sustainable fuel plans form a part of its pledge to be net-zero carbon by 2030, though it could also be viewed as an attempt at pushing back against the popularity of Formula E and the electrification of the auto industry.

Amongst its upcoming goals, Formula 1 says it will start using E10 fuel — a mixture of 90 percent fossil fuel and 10 percent ethanol — by 2022, and it will use a new generation of power units by 2025, powered by the 100 percent sustainable fuel it is developing. In its statement, Formula 1 says it is "actively engaged in discussions with fuel companies about creating the fuel in the quantities needed for the championship." As with many other innovations that have come from Formula 1 to the commercial auto industry, the organizers say they also aim to eventually "scale up production for wider social use."

Formula 1 and the aviation industry opt for sustainable "drop-in" fuels

The new sustainable fuel will be created in a laboratory and Formula 1 says it will be sourced using sustainable methods, such as carbon capture and non-food biomass. Though the fuel itself will still emit carbon dioxide, zero net carbon will be emitted via its consumption. Formula 1 says the fuel will achieve "greenhouse gas emissions savings relative to fossil-derived petrol of at least 65%." Importantly, the fuel will have the same energy density as current fossil fuel petrol used by the cars in the racing series, meaning they will continue to reach massive speeds at a fraction of the cost to the environment.

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Formula 1's efforts closely resemble those of the aviation industry, which aims to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, but will need to develop sustainable fuels due to the challenge of electrifying long-haul airliners — earlier this week, the world's first synthetic kerosene plant for sustainable aviation fuel was opened in Germany. In its statement, Formula 1 argues that, as only 8 percent of vehicles on the road are predicted to be fully electric by 2030, its new fuel will have an enormous impact on global sustainability efforts. The organization claims that "internal combustion engines will continue to be essential to air and sea travel, as well as to the haulage industry" for years to come.

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