Every engine in existence requires a fuel source to perform. It’s an obvious statement, but it’s true. So, when working with high-performance race engines, the fuel to power these elite machines has to match. This requirement for optimal racing fuels has become a distinct area of specialisation, with fuel blends often calculated precisely to suit the unique characteristics of a particular engine.
In the Red Bull Air Race, the trusted powerplant for every team is the Lycoming Thunderbolt AEIO-540-EXP – six cylinders, air cooled, and offering 300 horsepower at 2,950 rpm – all of which have been custom designed for the sport.
The official fuel and carbon reduction partner of the Red Bull Air Race, Air BP knows just what fuel planes need to perform at their toplevel of the motorsport. For the last three years Air BP has been committed to offsetting the fuel used in these high-performance planes.
Irene Lores, global sales and marketing director, general aviation, Air BP, says that the organisation’s expertise is helping communities around the globe. “We’ve applied our expertise in reducing and offsetting carbon emissions from the fuel used over each season for Red Bull Air Race. By the end of 2019 we would have offset over 18 races for every single Air Race competitor. We are investing in carbon reduction projects such as forest conservation in Zambia and biomass power in India through our sister company BP Target Neutral. These projects are proven to reduce carbon emissions while also helping improve livelihoods in the communities where they are based.”
In the general aviation industry, there are significant steps being taken to make flying greener. Air BP is investing heavily to support the development of greener fuels called biofuels, which we call biojet. We have already fuelled planes in some locations. Amazingly these are made from waste oils like used cooking oil. These fuels can reduce the carbon footprint of aviation fuel by up to 80% over their full life cycle.
Engine design has also changed massively over the years. Engines are becoming lighter and more powerful which means they burn less fuel. Prototypes are already available for up to 10-seater electric aircraft models which are being designed for the business and general aviation market.
In the domestic market major car manufacturers are focusing on developing high-performing electric models. This evolution has also been adopted in motorsports, where we are already seeing electric racing cars. Maybe in the future we’ll see electric planes go head to head with conventionally fuelled planes?
There’s little doubt that exciting developments and innovations in clean technologies have the potential to change the face of aviation in the future, and it certainly looks greener than ever.