Renewable diesel trial in race trucks provides insights, challenges for full adoption next year
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team recently concluded a renewable diesel trial in its 16 Mercedes Actros Gigaspace race trucks for the final three races of the European season.
As part of the drive to further reduce its CO2 emissions and achieve verified net zero by 2030, the trial was designed to understand the level of carbon saving and positive impact that can be achieved using biofuels, as well as the sourcing challenges across Europe, to assist the development of the team’s strategy to maximize the use of sustainable fuels for the 2023 European races.
The trial took place between the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa, the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort and the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, a distance of approximately 1,400 kilometers (870 miles).
Analysis conducted after the trial concluded has shown that the use of 100 percent hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) biofuel saved 44,091 kilograms of CO2 and reduced freight emissions by 89 percent.
One of the team’s trucks was initially tested and successfully powered by HVO100 biofuel from the Hungarian Grand Prix back to the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team headquarters in Brackley, U.K.
Following this journey, 13 race trucks which spent the summer shutdown in Belgium and three trucks from the U.K., used locally sourced biofuel to travel 300 kilometers from Spa to Zandvoort and then 1,100 kilometers from Zandvoort to Monza, with only the final 20 kilometers requiring the use of diesel fuel due to supply challenges.
HVO100 is a 100 percent renewable fossil-fuel free product derived from vegetable oils, waste oils and fats. The use of HVO100 can significantly reduce CO2 emissions and reduce the impact of freight on local air quality by reducing NOx and particulate emissions.
Bioenergy currently accounts for roughly one-tenth of the world’s total primary energy supply, with biofuels demand forecasted to increase by 28 percent by 2026.
Biofuels are already being used in motorsports, with Formula One introducing the use of E10 biofuels this year as part of the drive to transition to 100 percent sustainable fuel in F1 cars from 2026.
Over the past few years, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team has worked tirelessly to change and better understand the impact that its activities have, and its mission has evolved as the team seeks to win sustainability on track and in business.
This announcement follows a series of commitments to operate more sustainably, including becoming the first global sports team to invest in sustainable aviation fuel, and further cements its ongoing pledge to sustainability and desire to drive change within Formula One.
“Sustainability is at the heart of our operations,” said Toto Wolff, team principal and CEO of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team. “Trialing the use of biofuels for our land freight is another example of our commitment to embed sustainability in every decision we make and action we take. We aim to be on the cutting edge of change and hope we can make the adoption of sustainable technology possible as we are all in the race towards a sustainable tomorrow.”
Alice Ashpitel, sustainability and environmental manager at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team, added, “We are committed to using our global-motorsport platform to be leaders in the journey towards not just sustainable racing but a more sustainable future. The outcome of this trial with an 89 percent reduction in emissions is another example of our drive to become the most sustainable sports team and comes following a period of commitments from the team to invest in industry-leading sustainability strategies.”