UNL Team to Use E85 in SAE Competition

Joanna Schroeder

University racing teams participating in the Formula SAE Collegiate design and performance racing series have the opportunity to develop race cars with alternative fuels. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln team has chosen to compete in the 2013 series using E85 racing fuel. Ten of the 81 teams will be competing with E85 racing fuel. The student designed Formula racing type vehicles will compete in a variety of categories including design, performance, acceleration, and endurance.

“After evaluating several fuel options we were confident that E85 would provide the high octane performance necessary to be competitive,” said Jonah Knepper, a member of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Husker Motorsports team. “We initially calibrated our competition engine on high octane gasoline. When we fine-tuned the calibration with E85 we gained a ten percent increase in power output. With additional design and tuning we think we can get another ten percent power output. That is a huge advantage in racing competition,” said Knepper.

E85 has an octane rating of 100 and as a result, Matthew Kalus, one of the team engineers said when they calibrated the 600 cc engine it increased its power output while at the same time cooling the engine. Brazilian racing teams have been using E85 racing fuel and both IndyCar and NASCAR also compete with ethanol blends.

The 2013 Formula SAE competition will be held in Lincoln next year.  Last year the University of Kansas secured first place in the Overall competition as well as the Endurance competition using E85 racing fuel. In addition, the University of Wisconsin won the top spot in the Fuel Economy category using E85. The UNL team is confident they’ll have a chance at the top spot using E85 racing fuel along with some innovative engineering.

E85, Ethanol