As a passionate podium chaser, you know that fuel choice can be critical to the success of your motor racing season. Race fuels offer higher octane levels than pump fuels, but should you opt for an oxygenated or an unoxygenated fuel? Let’s unpack the differences…
Oxygenated fuel, simply put, contains ingredients and additives (‘oxygenates’) that increase the oxygen content, primarily to offset the carbon monoxide created when fuel is burned. These oxygenates are alcohols, like ethanol or methanol.
Regular pump fuels, like that sold in South Africa, is oxygenated, and is available in different octane ratings – in South Africa, there are three pump fuel options that can be found at almost any station – ULP 95, ULP 93 and LRP 95. These oxygenated fuels are used by standard road vehicles. Our neighbour Namibia offers only ULP 95, aside from their diesel options.
These days, oxygenated fuels are unleaded – South Africa phased out leaded fuel in 2006, and modern engines are designed for unleaded fuels, with older engines now using lead-replacement petrol.
Unoxygenated fuel contains such negligible levels of oxygen that it can be referred to as a fuel with a zero-percentage oxygen level. Unoxygenated fuels do not contain additives such as ethanol and oxygen and are thus pure gasoline.
Unoxygenated gasoline isn’t available from the pump at fuel stations in South Africa but is available from race fuel suppliers. Suitable for high-performance applications, unoxygenated fuel is a popular choice for many top-tier international motor racing teams, like those in Formula 1, and local motorsport competitors, like SA Oil’s brand ambassadors, who fuel up with our unoxygenated race fuel for their respective motorsport racing events.
Other than the lack of significant oxygen levels in one and the purposeful boosting of oxygen content in the other, oxygenated and unoxygenated fuels differ in several other ways, including their combustion performance, engine wear, and fuel efficiency.
Depending on your engine’s compression ratio, the fuel you use can have a huge impact on your engine’s efficiency and wear, fuel economy and power. Knowing your engine well makes it easier to decide between race fuel options, i.e. whether to opt for an oxygenated or unoxygenated fuel.
Here are some basic guidelines to consider:
Unoxygenated fuel offers a spectrum of benefits such as:
Still not sure if unoxygenated fuel is for you? Watch our video on the differences between oxygenated and unoxygenated fuels for a quick overview!