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Bladder control

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Motor racing is dangerous. This is printed on the back of every motorsport venue entrance ticket and emphasised whenever possible to all involved. The risks of colliding with either track scenery or other competitors on the track is of course well known and accepted, but the next greatest risk to life and limb is surely that of fire. The biggest hazard on board the vehicle is therefore the fuel and its method of storage. And if you realise that the flashpoint (the lowest temperature at...

The gasoline direct injector

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The benefits of injecting fuel directly into the cylinder have been understood for many years, but so too have the technical difficulties. Better volumetric efficiency and the ability to inject the fuel exactly where it is wanted at precisely the correct time in the engine cycle are the upsides. The physical difficulties of installing the injector, the fuel pressures needed and the temperature of the injector tip are some of the downsides. As long ago as the early to mid-1950s, Mercedes...

The fuel filter

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Mention the word ‘filter’ and I guarantee that most people will think immediately of either the oil or air filter – very few, I am sure, will mention the fuel filter. Nevertheless, as important as both air and oil filters would seem to be, I might argue that for motorsport applications the fuel filter is perhaps the most important of all. Let me explain. If an engine is designed and carefully assembled according to well-defined procedures and then generously run-in to...

The fuel pump

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The function of the fuel supply system in the spark-ignition engine is simple: to supply the correct volume of fuel at the correct pressure appropriate to the method of engine fuelling used. In the case of a carburettor, for instance, this might mean a fuel pressure of no more than 1.5-2 psi (10-15 kPa) pumping the fuel into the carburettor float chamber, from which the fuel will be sucked into the intake air stream. A simple, engine mounted, cam-actuated mechanical lift pump using an...

Surging ahead

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Trying to pick up that last drop of fuel out of the tank is a challenge, especially if the car is developing high g-forces while cornering or under acceleration. However, ensuring complete evacuation of the fuel tank just as the race is finishing not only gives the race engineer a sense of satisfaction but minimises the start weight of the car, giving the equivalent of just that little bit extra engine performance. In a sense therefore, fuel that can’t be picked up out of the tank is...