The NTT IndyCar Series remains interested in bringing a zero-emission ‘eFuel’ to its paddock.
The subject was high on the series’ list of priorities while developing its upcoming 2.4-liter twin-turbo V6 engine formula, and offered hope that if its goal were achieved, there would be no need for incorporating a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) into the package.
As the timeline for developing and using a synthetic eFuel came and went, though, IndyCar opted for KERS and hybridization for the new motor package that will debut in 2023. But series president Jay Frye said the idea of switching to an eco-friendly fuel at some point in the future has not been abandoned.
“That’s something that we’ve been looking at in the last couple of years,” Frye told RACER. “What we’ve come up with is a three-prong approach with three big goals. One was the aeroscreen, then some form of hybridization, and the other one we’ve been thinking about for a few years: What’s possible with the fuel for the future?
“We’ve obviously checked the box on the aeroscreen; we’re checking the box on the hybrid system; and what’s next? We have some ideas and we’ve done a lot of research on the fuel side.”
A handful of eFuel initiatives are under way at the moment, with the most high-profile belonging to Porsche and Siemens Energy, which recently announced plans to produce a climate-neutral eFuel in 2022.
Given the desire within the auto industry to reduce and eventually curtail its reliance on fossil fuels, an increase in hybrid and fully-electric vehicle manufacturing is taking place. But eFuels could play a transformative role if and when they prove capable of replacing fossil fuels while eliminating the majority of pollutants found in today’s gasoline.
Set in the competitive environment of IndyCar, there’s considerable promotional and educational value that could be found if the series were to become an early eFuel adopter.
“Honda and Chevrolet are both very helpful with that,” Frye said. “There are some things that would be relatively simple to do now that could be possible. But I would say, once we get into the summer and our timelines are all in place for what’s coming with the new hybrid motors, fuel is something that we definitely need to put back on top of the list. We’re certainly exploring what could be possible.”