Cool answer to racecar fueling

  • 11-Mar-2009 04:59 EDT
Zircotec Honda Britcar.jpg
Cool fuel for Honda: ­A Zircote­c thermal barrier ceramic coating helped T.J.H. Motorsport's Civic racecar maximize its fuel tank potential.

Accurate fueling is an essential part of motor racing success, and a thermal barrier ceramic coating used on a Honda Civic racecar has allowed the T.J.H. Motorsport team to realize the true capacity of its gas tank, helpi­ng it achieve a best-ever sixth place in the recent Britcar 24-h race.

Using Zircotec’s exhaust coating enabled the car to take on an extra 16 L (4.2 gal) of fuel per stop in the Britcar event, allowing it to run for three hours between refueling, resulting in a class win. It was also the first front-wheel-drive car to the checkered flag.

"In the past, we have struggled to get more than 94 liters of fuel into the car due to air locks in the warm fuel tank," said Team Manager Simon Mason. "Now we can fill it to our 110-liter allowance."

The team originally approached Zircotec to coat the Honda’s exhaust to reduce cockpit temperatures. Endurance racing requires drivers to stay focused and comfortable through day and night. Zircotec’s coatings have been used to inhibit the transfer of exhaust heat, reducing surface temperatures by up to 170°C (338°F).

But further testing showed that cabin temperatures could also be lowered. During development of an effective solution for the Honda’s cabin, Zircotec suggested it could also keep the fuel tank cooler.

"Zircotec’s coating has a thermal efficiency of less than 1.7 W/m·K (compared with 4 W/m·K for alumina) and is used by race engineers to make drivers more comfortable and safe," said  Zircotec’s Motorsport Manager Stuart Clarke. "Customers use our proven coating to prevent fuel vaporization in the engine bay, but when the team explained the issue with the fuel capacity, we felt coating the exhaust close to the fuel tank could solve their problems."

Zircotec can create a separate heat shield, but in this case, all that was required was to plasma spray the Honda’s exhaust around the fuel tank area, a fit-and-forget solution that is more durable and takes up less space than wrap (increasing air­flow to further cool the exhaust), said Clarke. "The race team is now sending a Porsche Carrera Cup exhaust to Zircotec to be coated."

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