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Fuel made from wine waste to power racing cars

A new fuel partially made from wine residues has been developed for motorsport and will be offered to teams at the famous 24 hours of Le Mans race next year, according to its producer.

TotalEnergies said its new bioethanol fuel, produced using leftovers from the French wine industry, would be introduced for racing cars at next season’s FIA World Endurance Championship.

Named ‘Excellium Racing 100’, drivers could see their cars powered by the ‘renewable’ fuel at the renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 2022.

Motorsport’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), has backed efforts to develop more sustainable fuel and power sources for racing cars, including in Formula 1.

‘This fuel should allow an immediate reduction of at least 65% of the racing cars’ CO2 emissions,’ said TotalEnergies, which is official fuel supplier to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race organiser, Automobile Club de l’Ouest.

Made from leftover materials from winemaking, such as wine lees and grape pomace, the group said the production process involves ‘industrial fermentation, distillation then dehydration’.

This base, it said, ‘is then blended with ETBE (Ethyl Tertio Butyl Ether), itself a by-product made from ethanol, and with several performance additives’.

Jean Todt, FIA president, said, ‘Endurance racing, by its nature, has always served as an excellent research and development platform and it is an important milestone to have the FIA World Endurance Championship switching to 100% sustainable fuel.

‘It’s FIA’s major goal to implement sustainable energy sources across its portfolio of motorsport disciplines.’

Formula 1 has said it intends to be ‘net zero carbon’ by 2030.

Several research projects have looked at the possibility of using wine waste to create ‘renewable’ fuel.

The concept also gained a higher profile back in 2008, when it emerged that Prince Charles in the UK had converted his Aston Martin to run on fuel made from English wine waste and whey.

Leftovers from the wine world have also been used for other purposes, including to create ‘wine leather’.

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