Motorsport UK supports Formula Student to embrace sustainable fuels

Tuesday 18 July 2023

Motorsport UK, working with Coryton Fuels, will bring sustainable fuel options to the 2023 edition of Formula Student for the first time in its 25-year history.

The finals of the celebrated competition will get underway on Thursday this week at Silverstone Circuit and will conclude on Sunday 23 July. Formula Student challenges teams of university students to display their technical, engineering, design and manufacturing skills, in addition to their academic studies, enabling them to become the well-rounded engineers of the future, whether in motorsport or elsewhere.

Motorsport UK has provided a grant for entrants to use Coryton’s sustainable fuels in internal combustion engine (ICE) powertrains, offering up to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The sustainable fuels are second-generation biofuels and contain no fossil fuels; instead, the carbon in the fuels is effectively recycled from the atmosphere. The highest-placed entrant utilising the fuels will be awarded with the Motorsport UK Sustainable Fuels Award.

A third of the 130 university teams have chosen to use the fuel, including one from Italy and a further from Slovenia. Closer to home, the universities of Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow Caledonian, Kingston, Exeter, West of England , Sheffield Hallam and Wolverhampton have also elected for the sustainable option.

The University of Wolverhampton’s Nick Skidmore (School of Engineering), explains the rationale for their choice: “The University of Wolverhampton sees Coryton Sustain 100 as a completely viable solution. It enables us to compete with the lowest impact on the environment using our existing internal combustion engine, which has served us well for the past seven years. It can reduce fossil fuel carbon emissions using ‘above earth’ carbon sources to produce a 100% sustainable petrol and we are pleased to use it for our 2023 Formula Student entry – Wolf #7. We believe this to be the truly sustainable direction to drive the development of our car and the education of our students.”

Sitting alongside Wolverhampton is Sheffield Hallam University’s SHU Racing, which has picked the 95 RON E10 option. For the Sheffield team, in their 13th year of competition, choosing the Coryton E10 fuel made sense both from a sustainability and practicality standpoint.

“The largest part of choosing it was the sustainable factor,” Powertrain Lead and MEng Automotive Engineering student Troy Butler commented. “For the competition, we have to develop a business case as if we’re presenting to investors, and our concept is a junior racing series, which we’d start in the UK but try to go global with. The sustainable option is the much better choice, especially when it comes to looking at going global. When we looked at it, the cost of EVs globally is quite high, especially for a prototype or spec series.”

They also cite increased reliability, the high accuracy of data gained from testing and the little-to-no impact on engine wear as additional reasons for choosing the fuel, as SHU Team Principal Brendan Bourne states: “We’re looking to achieve the top 25 percentile in every single event, and then an overall top 10% score in the competition. There’s a huge importance within the dynamic (on-track) events to ensure you’re consistently scoring high throughout all the events, while also ensuring your vehicle is reliable and finishes the endurance event with, ideally, a high optimum efficiency, because those can maximise the team’s points.”

As a result of offering these solutions, Motorsport UK, Coryton Fuels and Formula Student – which is organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers – are playing a key role in inspiring engineers of the future to adopt these more sustainable approaches. This also puts the competition firmly in line with Motorsport UK’s wide-ranging Sustainability Strategy and its bold ambition to achieve substantial change within the sport, which can contribute actively to global sustainability.

Hugh Chambers, CEO of Motorsport UK, commented: “The 2023 Formula Student competition is a fantastic opportunity for the automotive and motorsport engineers of the future to experience and deploy leading edge technologies in a stimulating motorsport scenario. By funding the use of sustainable fuels for those teams that choose an internal combustion engine, we hope to inspire the next generation of engineers to have a broad view of the future technologies of propulsion.”