By: Christen Maccone
Formula 1 is the most prestigious motor racing competition and most popular annual sporting series. In more recent years, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and Formula 1 have been moving towards more sustainable practices. For example, earlier in 2021, Formula 1 introduced new policies banning single-use plastic bottles for staff while at races and switching paddock passes to be made from recycled plastic.
In November of 2019, Formula 1 released a net-zero carbon footprint plan to be achieved by 2030. This goal includes both on-track and off-track operations. Now, nearly two years after the initial announcement of their net-zero plan, Formula 1 has announced that come 2025, engines will run on 100% sustainable fuel. Using the new fuel will not require any modification to the current internal combustion engines, calling it “drop-in fuel.”
While Formula 1 engines are already set to run on a fuel mixture of 90% fossil fuel and 10% renewable ethanol come 2022. The fuel to be used in 2025 will use either carbon capture or biomass from municipal waste, algae, or agricultural waste. Sustainable fuels will release carbon dioxide when burned; however, there is no net carbon dioxide because the engines will use CO2 already present in the atmosphere.
Though this is surely a step in the right direction, actual on-track activity contributes only 0.7% of the sport’s emissions. Despite the minimal direct impacts these efforts will have on Formula 1’s carbon footprint compared to other operational improvements that could be made, the potential impact that this drop-in fuel has on the global market could make up for that. The technological and engineering advancements teams have made on the track have historically made an impact on the road as well. For example, Mercedes S-Class vehicles use hybrid technology derived from the team’s Formula 1 car. Producing a drop-in fuel would not only lower emissions directly from Formula 1, but based upon the past, it is foreseeable that this technology would then spread to the global market, allowing for a much more significant impact on carbon emissions.
While President Biden’s August executive order calling for half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 to be electric and dedicating billions of dollars to boost electric vehicles gives hope, there is still room for improvement when it comes to fuel consumption for the non-electric vehicles that will still be on the road. In fact, estimates show that a mere 8% of the cars on the road in 2030 will be fully electric, so it is incredibly important that something is done about gasoline-powered vehicles. Furthermore, if Formula 1 technology once again makes its way off the race track and onto roads everywhere, this drop-in fuel could significantly impact global emissions.
Image from: Formula1
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