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The Proof Is in the Stopwatch: A Technical Analysis of How the Project G.R.E.E.N. Camaro Faired in a Three-Day Test Pitting Carb vs. EFI and Gas vs. E85

Submitted by on August 1, 2011 – 1:09 pmNo Comment

by Danny Bocci, Forrest Jehlik, Jim McFarland (Circle Track Magazine)  Circle Track Editor’s Note: What if there were technologies and approaches to running a race car that significantly increased performance, were relatively inexpensive, lowered operational costs, supported domestic industries, and virtually removed racers from the environmental debate? Even though many racers may not be particularly concerned about their potential environmental impact, the performance and cost benefits can be significant. Racers spend countless hours and resources trying to gain the slightest bit of performance advantage. It’s this passion that makes the people involved a truly special group of individuals.

Circle Track’s “Project G.R.E.E.N.” team is on a path to demonstrate that our goals are not unrealistic and now appear to be within our reach. From the results contained in this story, we believe there are virtually no significant compromises in using electronic fuel-injection (EFI) in an oval track car since increased performance and lower operational costs are achievable. In addition, racers could be seen as leaders in the overall environmental movement.

…Capitalizing on the capability of this tremendous technology, the Project G.R.E.E.N team installed a Sensors, Inc. SEMTECH DS portable emissions measurement system (PEMS) in a tube frame race car. Traditionally, accurate emissions testing required vehicles to be tested in a laboratory environment. However, this unit allows real-time emission measurements with the vehicle operating at the track, as it would in a race. By linking a GPS and a data acquisition system that allowed for temperature measurements and engine control unit (ECU) codes, the team tested each configuration twice over a series of five-lap runs (for a total of 10), running virtually-identical lap profiles.

…Over the half-mile oval, the average lap time was 19.2 seconds. The fastest average lap-time was recorded using E85 and EFI without catalytic converters, at 0.5-second quicker per lap. Even with converters bolted on, the E85 EFI configuration’s average lap time was reduced 0.2-second, relative to the race-fueled and carbureted counterpart using no catalysts.

…Several factors played a role supporting improved performance. Among them was an increase in air/fuel charge density based on the superior vaporization characteristics of ethanol. Another was the more favorable burn curve characteristics of ethanol.

…Using Argonne’s GREET model along with data collected from the track, CT’s team analyzed the total well-to-wheel carbon footprint of the Camaro, using both petroleum-based race fuel and cellulosic ethanol. For cellulosic ethanol, our analysis used switch grass as feedstock and included corn-based ethanol, race fuel, and modern production vehicles for comparison.  READ MORE and MORE (Circle Track follow up) and MORE (Circle Track) and MORE (Ethanol Producer Magazine) and MORE (Daytona Beach News Journal)  MORE (The Auto Channel) and  MORE (Advanced Biofuels USA)

Excerpts from Circle Track’s 2010 Camaro Race Car – Racing Project G.R.E.E.N. by Dalton Zehr:  After our test of the Project G.R.E.E.N. Camaro at New Smyrna Speedway (Jan. ’11), I couldn’t wait to go out and race the car. The combination of EFI and E85 had the motor pulling so strong around the track, that I knew we had a car that could compete with many of the Super Late Models in and around Florida.

…CT’s Editor, Rob Fisher, wanted to debut the Camaro at a large event and Oktoberfest proved to be the perfect venue. “Our goal was to showcase the fact that new OEM technologies and alternative fuels could make effective racing platforms to a lot of people in one area. The packed grandstands of Oktoberfest did just that,” said Fisher.

…The Camaro body and the LS3 engine really created a buzz, but when people found out we were going to run the race on pump grade E85, they often looked at us like we were crazy.

…Because the Project G.R.E.E.N. Camaro is an experimental demonstration vehicle, we asked not to be scored nor did we take any points.

…One characteristic of the EFI engine was that I had more torque available earlier in the powerband, meaning I could drive off the corner much faster than the carbureted engines.   READ MORE

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