VALENCIA. Sunrise at Fuji International Circuit. The Fuji 24 Hours equator of the Super Taikyu series has long passed. This test is the second round of the ENEOS Super Taikyu Series sponsored by Hankook. The air smells of cooking oil, it will be because the crews are starting to prepare breakfast. Not many know that in box 27, the technicians of the Mazda Spirit Racing team used used cooking oil combined with microalgae greases to fill the tank of the car they had on the track.
“Today’s race does not just test the skills of drivers and teams. It could also change the course of Mazda’s future.“.
Mazda competes in the ST-Q category reserved for unapproved special vehicles. That is, it is a category where manufacturers must test experimental models. Mazda presented the Zekken 55 Mazda2 Bio concept, which consumes only used cooking oil and biodiesel made from microalgae oils. Today’s race does not just test the skills of drivers and teams. It could also change the course of Mazda’s future.
- #55 Mazda2 Bio Zekken Concept Drive Quick Change
- The fuel is a mixture of oils from microalgae and cooking oil.
- The ST-Q class is reserved for experimental cars.
The world is rapidly moving to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in a shift driven by the European Green Deal, which is largely committed to the EU countries’ goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. To begin with, is the electricity used to move these vehicles generated from renewable sources? And are the raw materials required to manufacture the batteries sustainable and environmentally friendly? What about countries that still do not have a reliable and universal source of electricity?
Mazda wants to give a direct answer to these questions and many others. “We adhere to a multi-solution approach with different drivetrain options depending on the policies of each country or region,” said Akira Marumoto, President and CEO of Mazda Motor Corporation. That’s why Mazda already has the electric MX-30 in its model range and has a program of development and continuous improvement of its engines and technologies to make them compatible with existing infrastructures around the world. But it is also exploring alternative energy sources to oil.
Mazda believes that green fuels can make a very positive contribution to the decarbonisation of mobility, as they are produced from clean energy sources and are 100% carbon neutral. Their development could significantly facilitate the transition to clean mobility by 2050. These fuels provide a significant reduction in CO emissions.two throughout the entire useful life of vehicles and ensures their operation is carbon neutral. And this applies not just to new electric vehicles, but especially to the fleet of vehicles we have now: it’s something that no other technology offers. In addition, ecological fuels will be fully compatible with fossil fuels and can be mixed in any ratio. This will allow them to be replaced as production grows, making them easier to adopt.
“The engine developers, who are part of Mazda’s competition team, greatly appreciated the high quality of this next-generation biodiesel.”
Testing of this Mazda2 Bio prototype is one of the working arms of the brand’s multi-solution approach. In 2018, Mazda joined “Your Green Fuel”, a consortium in Hiroshima that was created with the participation of the automotive industry, research centers and public administrations, including Euglena, a Japanese company that aims to produce the next generation biodiesel mass. Open a commercial facility in 2025.
Euglena’s next generation biodiesel is called “SUSTEO”. It is made entirely of Japanese products and is officially recognized as diesel by the Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS). SUSEO is a mixture based on oils and fats obtained from microalgae of the genus. Euglena and used cooking oil. This is exactly the key to making this biodiesel carbon neutral: it is produced from biomass derived from plants and microalgae. When this fuel burns, COtwo those absorbed by each other during their growth compensate for those released into the atmosphere with a neutral global equilibrium. It is also unique in that it does not create food competition or deforestation problems, unlike traditional biofuels made from corn or other virgin materials. Another advantage of this new generation biofuel is that it can be used in vehicles that are already on the road and can be distributed using existing infrastructure.
- Industrial production of the next generation biodiesel is scheduled to begin in 2025 (image courtesy of Euglena Co. Ltd.)
- Microalgae are grown in a facility and combined with cooking oils (image courtesy of Euglena Co., Ltd.)
- The resulting biodiesel is used by the Mazda Spirit Racing team.
Currently, the Mazda2 Bio concept is a rolling lab. Mazda has decided to test the new fuel in a small car like this one, which had significant success with the stock Skyactiv diesel engine by a dedicated team during the 2021 racing season. Facing the 2023 season, Mazda is developing a new race car based on the Mazda3 with a more powerful engine.
“This is a bold initiative that fits perfectly with the pioneering spirit Mazda has always displayed.”
Engine developers, who are part of Mazda’s competition team, praised the high quality of this next-generation biodiesel, saying it “works well with our existing Skyactiv-D engine and is well suited for things like fuel injection.”
It may not be long before we see cars powered by biodiesel Skyactiv-D engines on the roads. It’s a bold attempt that fits perfectly with Mazda’s pioneering spirit.
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