The Superbike Commission of the FIM World Superbike Championship (WorldSBK) has decided that the fuels used, as in MotoGP, must consist of at least 40% non-fossil components from the coming 2024 season. BMW Motorrad Motorsport is preparing intensively for this and is closely involved in the development of such alternative fuels, as a partner of the company NORDOEL as part of the federally funded joint project DeCarTrans.
DeCarTrans, coordinated by FEV, started in January and stands for “Demonstrating a Circular Carbon Economy in Transport Along the Value Chain.” The project will investigate the continuous production of synthetic gasoline in a demonstration plant on an industrial scale of up to 380,000 liters total production volume.
The main objectives of the joint project are to improve process efficiency (e.g., through heat re-integration) and to increase product quality in order to minimize the emission of pollutants during combustion. In addition, the consortium is evaluating possible sales and market launch scenarios as well as the associated legal framework (including RED II). One of the associated partners in this project, in addition to other companies and research centers, is the Lother Group, to which NORDOEL belongs.
The joint project DeCarTrans is funded by the Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport. As part of DeCarTrans, NORDOEL decided to cooperate with BMW Motorrad Motorsport in the research and development of alternative fuels.
DeCarTrans was recently presented in more detail in Hamburg as part of the project launch of Hamburg Blue Hub, a trading point open to all suppliers and customers for eMethanol and other synthetic fuels from all over the world. There were also vehicles in which the alternative fuels can be used in the future, including the BMW M 1000 RR from the FIM Superbike World Championship.
Examples of partially alternative fuels that will be driven in the WorldSBK from 2024 are bio-based fuels or synthetic fuels such as eFuels. The advantage of alternative fuels is that they can be used in conventional internal combustion engines—even in a high-performance racing unit such as the BMW M 1000 RR.
NORDOEL provides us with alternative fuels, which we test on our engine test bench under different conditions. The focus is currently on our WorldSBK engine, in which we will use these alternative fuels as early as 2024. We carry out analyses, fuel experts evaluate the fuels from the chemical side, and of course the focus is on the test bench work with operation in the fired engine with the corresponding analyses regarding combustion process, mixture formation, performance and consumption. In addition, there are other topics that come with alternative fuels. We also carry out further basic tests with other engines, for example our EWC engine. We play the results back to NORDOEL, and the colleagues there can then make appropriate adjustments. There is a transparent, close exchange here. The aim of the development is a fuel that complies with the regulations defined by the FIM and at the same time achieves the best possible performance and consumption values in combination with our WorldSBK engine.—Thomas von Westberg, who oversees the project on the part of BMW Motorrad Motorsport
The requirements for an alternative fuel used in racing are even more special than those for a fuel for production motorcycles.
One issue is combustion and knock sensitivity, because our engines are significantly higher compressed than production motorcycles. On the other hand, a fuel must of course always offer a performance advantage. Then it is important to ensure constant performance over the entire runtime of the engine.—Thomas von Westberg
As a research and development department, BMW Motorrad Motorsport also works very closely with its series colleagues on the subject of alternative fuels. The departments share all the results of their respective analyses and discuss regularly in close exchange.
Our technical claim is that the partially alternative racing fuel that we use in the WorldSBK can also be used in a production bike. This is also the idea within the DeCarTrans project and the goal of NORDOEL: to develop a racing fuel that is also suitable for production vehicles.—Thomas von Westberg
The basic engine for the WorldSBK is the production engine of the BMW M 1000 RR.
The WorldSBK racing engine has many production components, such as the injection system or the fuel pump and some more. But with our racing engines, of course, we are permanently at the limit. So if something works for us in racing, then it will most likely also work in the production bike at comparable load conditions.—Thomas von Westberg
First tests with the new alternative fuels on the racetrack are planned later this year in order to optimally prepare for the use of the semi-alternative fuels in the WorldSBK 2024 season.