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Ethanol Use at Indycar Race in São Paulo Means Eight Ton Reduction in CO2 Emissions

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São Paulo (March 13, 2010)This Sunday, the equivalent of eight tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) will not make it to the atmosphere, thanks to the use of sugarcane ethanol in the cars competing at the “São Paulo Indy 300,” the opening race of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar season.

The finding is in a report prepared by the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), requested by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. He made the request on February 2, during a visit by UNICA President and CEO Marcos Jank, with top executives from the Indy Racing League, Brazil’s Federal Export Development Agency (Apex-Brasil) and the Bandeirantes Television Network, which holds the rights for IndyCar broadcasts to Brazil.

The report draws a comparison between Indy, which uses ethanol, and gasoline-powered Formula 1. It concludes that the amount of CO2 emissions that will be avoided during the competition in São Paulo thanks to the use of sugarcane ethanol is the equivalent of what would be produced by a fleet of 3,600 automobiles powered by gasoline covering 14 kilometers each. Production of the document was coordinated by UNICA’s Technology and Emissions Consultant, Alfred Szwarc.

“The numbers show the environmental advantages of using ethanol in IndyCar races compared to gasoline use in Formula 1. The city of São Paulo is certainly thankful that this Sunday’s race will be a sustainable event,” said Szwarc.

To complete the report (full text attached), a number of premises were considered, which include:

  • Average fuel consumption by a Formula 1 car of 1.5 kilometer per liter of gasoline;
  • Each liter of gasoline (with a 7.5% ethanol blend, as permitted by Formula 1 rules) generating 2.2 kilograms of CO2, discounting the amount avoided because of the blended ethanol;
  • The Brazilian Grand Prix Formula 1 race held at Interlagos raceway in São Paulo is approximately 300 kilometers in length, which is about the average distance for most F-1 races, which results in the consumption of 200 liters of gasoline per vehicle per race;
  • Each vehicle consumes an additional 50 liters of fuel on practice runs, qualifying and engine warm-ups.

According to Szwarc, each Formula 1 vehicle that stays in the race until the checkered flag generates about 550 kilograms of CO2. “If the fuel utilized is exclusively ethanol, the amount of CO2 would drop significantly, to about 55 kilograms, since about 90% of CO2 emissions from ethanol are neutralized by the sugarcane as it grows in the fields, absorbing CO2 as it develops. So the amount of CO2 that would be avoided with ethanol stands at around 495 kilograms of CO2 per car in the race,” concludes Szwarc.

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Ana Carolina Lessa
Public Affairs, North America
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