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Biomethanol tested on dragster

Published: 16 June 2017

How is it to drive a 1600 horsepower-dragster on renewable methanol? That has been tested by researchers from Luleå University of Technology together with the drag racing-team Heaven or Hell.

– We and others have previously shown that methanol works as well as fossil fuels in standard combustion engines. With this test, we wanted to show that methanol is actually a much better fuel than regular gasoline, says Rikard Gebart, Professor of Energy Engineering at Luleå University of Technology.

The octane number of methanol is 105, compared to 95 for regular gasoline. In a engine intended for normal gasoline, this is not noticeable, but in an extreme race engine for methanol, the effect becomes apparent.

No greenhouse gas emissions

– Because our methanol is made from forest residues, you will not only get less emissions per kilometer than with gas, but you will also get rid of the net emissions of greenhouse gas, says Rikard Gebart.

The vehicle that was tested on biomethanol last Saturday is a 1600 horsepower Willys Coupé from 1941. The test drive took place during the 2017 Northern Race Festival at Pite Dragway in Långnäs, outside Piteå. The dragster reached a speed of 300 kilometers per hour without problems.

– The field test was very successful. The fuel worked excellent, just as we had expected. It is important that we can gather experiences from different types of field tests, says Fredrik Granberg, researcher at Luleå University of Technology and site manager at LTU Green Fuels research facility, adding:

– It’ s also nice to show that there is a green alternative for the motorsport. Renewable methanol produced from forest residues can work as well as today's fuels, but is significantly better than fossil fuel alternatives from an environmental point of view.

Contribute to a greener motorsport

The idea of ​​testing the dragster on Swedish-made, renewable biomethanol came up when Fredrik Granberg got in touch with the drag racing-team’s mechanic Mårten Isaksson. The drag racing team welcomes the possibility to run competitions on renewable fuel and thereby contribute to a greener motorsport.

– We see it as an important part of the future of motorsport. Much of the fuel management is controlled by large companies today, but we have chosen to use methanol, as the cost of other high-octane race fuels is sky high. Even though consumption is twice as high, methanol is an inexpensive and clean alternative, says Mårten Isaksson.

The methanol used in the field test is produced by gasification of a mix of black liquor, which is a waste product from paper mass production, and bio-oil that is made through fast pyrolysis of forestry waste.


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