Editor's Note: For the past several issues you have read a number of articles on Circle Track's latest project. It's a project where we intend to break away from conventional thinking about what makes a great oval-track race car. As promised in the March issue, we headed to Texas for an engine dyno session at Mast Motorsports. The volume of data gathered was beyond expectations both in content and in volume. Given that situation we thought it appropriate to set the stage and tone for the coming analysis of that data by asking the two men critical to that analysis (Jim McFarland and Forrest Jehlik) to share some perspectives. So without further ado we give you Circle Track's latest endeavor, Project G.R.E.E.N. (Green Racing Experimental Engine Narrative).
At the outset of this project, there were an assortment of questions pertaining to how the engine would perform once subjected to the array of configurations planned. Among them were such issues as what might be the difference in brake horsepower when switching from carburetion to electronic fuel injection and could we identify the underlying causes? Would there be any material changes in torque characteristics comparing these two methods of fuel induction? Was there a chance that combustion efficiency might be affected and where in the engine speed range could this occur, and could we link it to the differences between carburetion and EFI? How much power would be sacrificed when catalytic converters were installed? Was the use of such converters going to make any significant difference in emissions levels from a bona fide racing engine? How would the engine respond to a switch from conventional racing gasoline to E85? Was it possible that the torque curve generated by an EFI system would become reshaped to show increases in the lower and mid-range engine speeds? In fact, would less fuel be required to produce the same or more power when swapping EFI for carburetion? And the list of curiosities didn't stop with these questions. After all, as racers or former racers, we're all headed in the same direction. It's just a matter of how, perhaps in a more "green" sense, we should be trying reach to our collective goals. The purpose of this little "introduction" is to lay out some fundamental considerations that need to be aired before you digest the dyno results in the next issue. We feel this is both important and critical to understanding and getting the most value from the data. For example, winning race engines aren't just about how much power is being made. There are instances where an engine of lesser peak power than another performs better at the track. In these cases, shape of the torque curves can play a major role in why the engine of lesser peak power was quicker on the track. Comparing the torque curves between a carbureted and EFI version of the CT525 engine clearly notes the low- and mid-rpm benefits from the use of EFI. There are other notable comparisons you'll discover when we share specific data next month.
At this point, it's helpful to review some of the fundamental design considerations of the basic LS engine, looking back to when it first came to life. I recall fuel injector aiming being a key element when information was shared with me in the early '90s during the engine's conceptual period. In fact, layout of the inlet path was largely dictated by the direction in which air/fuel charges would enter the combustion space. Both swirl and tumble were incorporated by combining inlet path targeting and how air and fuel were treated prior to and during the burn.
A stock LS1 turned race motor...
A stock LS1 turned race motor sits between the fender walls of the Spirit of Daytona's Pontiac G8 Koni Challenge race car. Race cars in that series use electronically controlled fuel-injected motors with great success.
The net effect of this approach yielded a combustion process that minimized total spark advance, optimized IMEP (indicated mean effective pressure) and helped reduce net BSFC (brake specific fuel consumption) for improved combustion efficiency. This design platform is an ideal approach to evaluating the changes planned for the engine component of this project. In short, the CT525 package provides a test bed that is sensitive to change, supportive of the theoretical bases for making such modifications and an excellent platform for the evaluation of alternative fuels and exhaust after-treatment.
It is the strong belief of the participants in this project that Circle Track's readership will be exposed to some rather startling test results, based on solid testing techniques and a broad range of engine evaluation experience.
In particular, we call your attention to the attached sidebar. It is authored by a comparatively young engineer who works at Argonne National Laboratory with Bob Larsen, an engineer and motorsports advocate introduced to CT's readership in the January issue on page 36 in "Back to the Future." A brief bio on Forrest Jehlik precedes his comments about the project which, by the way, are framed in a way to let you see the potentially wide-spread impact this project could have on both motorsports and the use of sustainable fuels and technologies. It has turned out beyond fortuitous that Bob Larsen encouraged and enabled Forrest to join the project's team. His penchant to detail and ability to gather, organize, and present ongoing data streams has become a critical ingredient in our collective efforts. Chances are you'll hear more from and about him as the project unfolds. In fact, you can count on it.
Finally, there's one last point we'd like to remake, and you may recall that Editor Rob Fisher previously shared this perspective. To whatever success the project may achieve, its core intent is to showcase ways by which motorsports can grow in the near- and long-term future. It is not intended to suggest replacements for existing automotive racing activities or technologies. Rather, if the winds of change are blowing (and they are), we want to demonstrate there are ways other approaches can presently coexist with known racing landscapes. If, over time, it becomes necessary for motorsports to become more flexible in response to environmental or economic requirements presently unforeseen, then Circle Track wants to have at least put forth a best-efforts attempt to stimulate some thought and dislodge any misconceptions or perspectives that might otherwise detract from necessary growth of the sport we love. Next month's installment will likely be an eye-opener for you.
A note from Jim McFarland: Forrest Jehlik is a research engineer from Argonne National Laboratory. His primary duties include involvement with a range of advanced technology vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, and sustainable fuel powertrain technologies. In addition to leading portions of ANL's collegiate competitions developing advanced vehicle technologies, Forrest worked at GM's R&D/Powertrain where he led an engineering team to develop a proprietary combustion system that was included in the 4.5L Duramax engine. He capped his B.S. degree in Environmental Engineering (at the University of California-Riverside) with a M.S. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison while performing research in its Engine Research Center.
Though you might think Forrest operates from some vantage point removed from the essence of motorsports, he supports and is involved with the newly-founded Green Racing Initiative (referenced in the January issue of CT) and brought his enthusiast-level skills into the engine dyno room at Mast Motorsports last November to help grind out the initial test data you'll see next month. He has clearly demonstrated he's an automotive enthusiast who believes that the passion, drive, and talent found in the motorsports community can become a serious contributor to the development of sustainable energy for our country. Hear what he has to say.
Being involved with this project for a short period of time has proved to be one of the most rewarding undertakings in my professional career. The first engine test session was an all-hands-on-deck, roll-up-the-sleeves, and get-it-done event. There was a lot of focus, extremely long hours, yet not a single complaint generously fueled by seemingly never-ending cans of energy drinks and cups of coffee.
From my perspective, one of the most amazing aspects to the project is the passion that surrounds it. Everyone involved has donated their time, resources, and services without asking for anything in return. Examples of this are the test cell time and expertise provided by Mast Motorsports, the equipment and experience from Sensors, Inc. who supplied emissions testing equipment and actually drove from Southeast Michigan to Eastern Texas to the Circle Track staff on site to lend guidance for the tests. Then you need to factor in participation by Random Technologies, Quick Fuel Technology, Holley, and the fuels supplied by VP Fuels. At this level of participation, I can say that everyone involved feels they belong to something special to the extent this project could be the beginning of something that has global impact.
In fact, the racing community may play a larger role than ever before outside its immediate boundaries. What ultimately may be gained from this is an independent and sustainable future not only for the racing community, but an example that sets a course for the rest of our country. Ultimately, all of us involved understand we are doing this for the future of racing and our passion for its growth including the well-being of our country.
To frame the importance of what we are undertaking, the United States currently consumes 20-plus million barrels of oil per day. Out of this, approximately 65 percent must be imported1. This rate of consumption is a quarter of the world's total of just over 80 million barrels per day! Out of every barrel of oil we consume, 70 percent is used for transportation. To put all of this in perspective, the current proved petroleum reserves of the world are approximately 1,239 to 1,342 billion barrels of oil2. At the current global consumption of more than 80 million barrels a day (30 billion barrels per year with a consumption rate that is anticipated to grow 2 percent annually by 2035)3, the known reserves would be depleted in just over 30 years.
So what could racing possibly do to help solve such a sobering reality? Perhaps more than any of us might imagine. For example, as this project continues, we will be demonstrating and openly publishing results to the circle track racing community regarding the performance and cost benefits from using alcohol-based fuels. Early results from the E85 testing session have shown tremendous potential.
If we could imagine a fuel that is not only domestically generated and renewable but superior in power and cost effective to the racer, one of the greatest environmental obstacles to racing will have been effectively removed from debate.
Part of our test protocol...
Part of our test protocol requires us to switch from carburetion to fuel injection. Here Justin Pixley (on the left) and Perry Kristi begin removing an E85 carburetor from the CT525.
One big question was what...
One big question was what effect would catalytic converters have on both power and emissions on a race motor. Tune in next month to see the surprising results.
Horace Mast (in hat), founder...
Horace Mast (in hat), founder of Mast Motorsports, made more than 60 separate dyno pulls on various configurations of our CT525.
Imagine that the trackside fuel we use has been locally generated from sustainable sources and that nearly all of the CO2 generated from burning it goes into producing it, thereby removing any global climate change arguments. Not only this, but every dollar of that fuel goes into supporting domestic jobs and industry. In addition, by integrating advanced technologies into the sport, efficiencies will be raised, more power realized, and a new field of fans that never would have considered the sport introduced.
In effect, rather than racing being seen as something wasteful and/or frivolous, it becomes the ultimate example that the country can look to as a leader in sound, sustainable, and progressive advancement. We can become the tail that wags the dog.
E85 will become more available in the United States and it is something domestically generated. In fact, there are many methods used to develop it. Currently, there is great promise in developing this fuel from cellulosic and waste materials, using biomass catalytic conversions, and, potentially, even algae-based methods, all of which do not impact or displace food sources, like corn-based E85. The well-to-wheels analysis of CO2 emissions from these sources shows enormous potential in reducing the global CO2 footprint (like a greater than 80 percent reduction compared to imported oil), which we intend to demonstrate as this CT project progresses.
Whether or not one believes that human-based carbon emissions result in global climate change is a moot point; the truth is that petroleum is not an indefinite supply, a huge amount of money is leaking from our economy to fuel our oil addiction, and the end of affordable oil may come sooner than later.
Since many in the global community firmly believe that global warming climate change is an issue, these issues can no longer be ignored and will have to be addressed. By transitioning to these renewable fuels, the racing community can take an enormous step to remove itself from this debate and be a beacon to others on how the eventual transition away from oil dependence can occur.
The winds of change are whistling not too far from our doors. Whether or not racing wishes to acknowledge this will not change its arrival. We have the unique opportunity to bypass this coming storm and become the benchmark from which the rest of our country may be set, all the while doing what we love.
• 2. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/international/reserves.html (world oil reserves) • 3. Beyond Fossil Fools: The Roadmap to Energy Independence by 2040, Shuster, Joseph.M., 2008. Pg. 23
Forrest Jehlik, Research Engineer...
Forrest Jehlik, Research Engineer from Argonne National Laboratory, is one of the key participants on the Project G.R.E.E.N. team.
Granted it's a road racing...
Granted it's a road racing car, but the basically showroom stock Camaro was turned into a 600-plus-hp race car by Riley Technologies. It harkens back to the days when Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday was a mantra for auto racing.
Naturally, when all of this...
Naturally, when all of this dyno testing is completed, analyzed and the tweaks to the engine are made we're going to need a place to put our CT525. Deep in the warehouse of Circle Track's shop, we have a spot . . . like it?