Since 2006, Indy gyeongju League competitors have been utilizing ethanol come fuel their wishes for a checkered flag. Making certain that high quality is never ever sacrificed in the process is the project of PerkinElmer Inc. EPM goes come the Milwaukee Mile to suffer the power of Indy racing and also to view firsthand what walk into trial and error the fuel because that this high-octane environment.


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Screaming about the track at an ext than 160 miles per hour, one Indy racing auto skims a razor"s edge in between success and also chaos. For the 50,000 pan in the grandstands, ear protection is not an option, however a necessity. At the Milwaukee Mile, a "small oval" through Indy standards, 27 race groups converged newly to threat their reputations because that a chance at victory. The critical Saturday in might is qualifying day and crowds swarm pit roadway eager to capture a glimpse of your favorite driver. Some of the biggest names in racing are here. Favorites such as Marco Andretti and A.J. Foyt converse with newer stars choose Danica Patrick, Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves, who appeared on abc television"s "Dancing v the Stars" and also won. Fans are understandably excited through the approachability of this icons. And also the cars room no less famous. They room as sleek and also muscular together jungle cats. Naught on these vehicles is overlooked as every ounce of material supports the twin emphases that safety and speed. Tolerances in Indy gyeongju are extremely thin, a duty of the atmosphere they inhabit. In the 5 closest Indy Racing league races, the an unified margin of success was .0275 seconds. That"s about one-fifth of the time it takes come blink once. Every piston travels more than a mile up and also down in that is cylinder each minute. The wind force put on the car at peak speed would allow the car to gyeongju upside down. The is come this dance the ethanol to be invited. A Brief history of gyeongju FuelIn 2005, the IRL used 100 percent methanol in your tanks. The fuel functioned well and was more efficient than directly gasoline, yet IRL officials believed there to be room for improvement. In 2006, they relocated to a 10 percent blend of ethanol and also methanol, which was then readjusted to 100 percent ethanol for the 2007 season. The desire come use only ethanol aside, 100 percent ethanol is nearly impossible to obtain, and is illegal to store without payment hefty taxes the date earlier to prohibition. The yes, really fuel offered by the IRL is a mix of around 98 percent ethanol and 2 percent denaturant. The exact composition includes a tiny amount that high-octane gyeongju fuel. The fuel for today"s Indy cars has actually an octane rating the 113, contrasted with methanol"s 107. This method a far-ranging reduction in pre-ignition, or knocking and also pinging. In addition, many of the world who manage the fuel, to speak it smells prefer tequila. This quality may seem insignificant, however smell is actually one of ethanol"s benefits when contrasted with methanol. Pit crews noticed the move to ethanol immediately, reporting fewer coughing fits and also less eye irritation before any type of other adjustments were made to accommodate it. According to Dennis Vervynckt, manager of hospitality services and an IRL official, in 2006, the first year the IRL started using ethanol, groups saw a reduction in efficiency of about 10 percent. "That"s since we put straight ethanol right into the tanks," that says. "The teams at first didn"t make any�or an extremely many�adjustments to their engines. After a few months, they preserved tweaking and also by the finish of the season lock were back up to 100 percent efficiency."Vervynckt points out that there to be a minor loss of power. "When they very first started using ethanol, groups saw a slim drop in horsepower," that says. "As the teams obtained used to the fuel, they to be able to get much more horsepower native ethanol when they again got to maximum efficiency."The move to ethanol also permitted the racers to bring less fuel and also make fewer pit stops, in order to increasing performance even more. "When the cars ran on methanol tanks had actually to hold 30 gallons to accommodate the fuel demands of the cars," Vervynckt says. "After gaining the engines to execute at their complete potential, there was a far-ranging gain in mileage. Indy car now have 22-gallon tanks. As soon as a driver pulls in to adjust out his tires, he deserve to fill up. Teams were able to enhance their tire and also fuel stops exactly, rather of stopping for tires only, or fuel only."That efficiency translates into much less fuel being supplied by the sport. Lifeline foodstuffs LLC, which provides fuel for the IRL, will create 120,000 gallons the ethanol for the 2008 season. And though this may seem like a lot, it"s 20,000 gallons less than was provided the vault seasons. The switch from methanol-based fuel to ethanol has actually amazed practically everyone in the league. Drivers, the straight users of the fuel, voice their approval in glowing terms. " is one American fuel the is great for the country and also the environment," states Ryan Hunter-Reay, that Rahal Letterman Racing and also driver the the ethanol car. Standing alongside his crew as they make last-minute adjustments come the car, that is more than happy to discuss the services of the IRL"s move to ethanol. "It"s been an excellent for Indy racing�the fuel economy, emissions�there"s nothing us don"t like. Us love it." PerkinElmer"s experimentation Procedure During Saturday"s qualifying ring cars should make a date with IRL race main Kevin "Rocket" Blanch. Every day teams roll their cars from their setup areas in the infield to the testing facility for inspection. The dare come in order�no exceptions. Together teams push them toward the experimentation area, Blanch makes sure they know who"s in charge. "Go! walk! Go!" that yells come a team that"s acquisition a tiny too lengthy to get their former wing collection before rolling under the white awning that"s popping in the strong wind off Lake Michigan. Exterior the tent, two guys in red shirt dash from auto to automobile taking little samples that fuel. Gerry Kennedy, a an elderly customer support engineer because that PerkinElmer Inc., handle a syringe v a long tube. After acquisition a bit of fuel, he turns to PerkinElmer field business engineer Saleh Abdeljalil, that stands ready with a small sample jar. Abdeljalil provides a note of the sample number and also then locations it, in order, in a item of wood that holds the sample jars. As Abdeljalil finishes, Kennedy is already headed because that the next car. Fuel trial and error takes ar before and after qualifying. "We check the fuel indigenous the main tanker truck and also then from every the cars," Kennedy says. "After the qualifying round, the top 5 teams will need to come back and we"ll execute a follow-up test." that course, stiff penalties await any team that might attempt to cheat, but the idea could be much more apocryphal 보다 realistic. "There"s not much they have the right to put in the tank the would offer them one advantage," Abdeljalil says. Still, the fuel demands to be checked, and also if a sample deviates too lot from the mean, further experimentation will it is in done. PerkinElmer partnered v the IRL in 1996 to begin testing fuel for the organization using gas chromatography. Prior to then IRL fuel was tested making use of ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy (UV-VIS). Examining the absorb of irradiate passing v the sample, UV-VIS is a reasonably easy check to perform. The test is specific to a point, however gas chromatography is wanted for its capability to recognize the actual ingredient of the elements and particles current in the sample. A UV-VIS test have the right to tell if fuel has impurities in it, but it can"t necessarily tell what every one of those impurities are. Conversely, a gas chromatograph deserve to tell specifically what impurities room in the fuel based upon their chemistry signature.After the cars space through the checkpoint and given the green light come qualify, they are rolled to pit roadway for any kind of last-minute preparations prior to the drivers arrive. The samples bring away by Kennedy and also Abdeljalil are lugged inside the IRL station and also tested utilizing PerkinElmer"s gas chromatograph (GC). As the qualifying ring commences, most Indy officials begin to rotate their fist to the tv screens. Everyone is a gyeongju fan even if it is they room directly affiliated with the IRL or the racers, or not. In the meantime, PerkinElmer"s scientists still have a project to carry out making certain each the the 27 samples is accounting for and will be confirm accurately. Abdeljalil and also Kennedy space oblivious come the cars tho audible zooming about the track. "Samples go into the GC unit and are heated," Kennedy says. "They start at around 45 degrees Celsius (113 levels Fahrenheit), raising by 20 levels each minute up to about 160 degrees C (320 degrees F). Each sample takes five to 7 minutes, so once we begin the samples will take a few hours to process."The following day, as soon as all the samples have actually been processed, and assuming every comes out well for the teams, Kennedy and Abdeljalil will only must test the top five finishers. "The only problem is that periodically they forget to carry their automobile by for this reason we deserve to test it," Kennedy says. "That means we may need to track them down quick and get the sample." due to the fact that the fuel is pumped the end of the cars before they travel, the feeling of urgency is real. "There have been a few times I"ve had actually to stick my arm method down in the tank just to feeling for any moisture whatsoever," Kennedy says. "Luckily us don"t need much for the GC."Ethanol in Indy"s FuturePerkinElmer is one of plenty of players who make the IRL the powerhouse it is in American racing. Indigenous the technologically advanced tires that Firestone produces for the league, come the engines�all similar from the factory and also leased by Honda�Indy racing bring a an effective image to anyone affiliated through the sport. The reality that the IRL switched to ethanol should signal come observers that organization officials spent a lot of time and energy making sure they were gaining the finest fuel available. Their ringing endorsement is one indication that they arrangement to continue the connection for a lengthy time come come. Craig A.

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Johnson is the Ethanol Producer Magazine plant list and also construction editor. With him in ~ cjohnson