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Electric New Paper – Singapore: FUELLING FERRARI FOR THE FUTURE

By Ernest Luis 
April 16, 2007      
 
YOU could say that Lisa Lilley is the woman responsible for keeping Ferrari’s Formula One team a well-oiled machine.

She is the technical manager for the Shell Global Solutions Team and one of only three women working on a technical basis in the Formula One paddock.

Lilley oversees all aspects of the technical partnership between Shell and Ferrari, with Formula One her main brief as she travels with the team to every race.

Her job involves the planning, monitoring and delivery of fuel and lubricants for the Ferrari team.

In fact, Shell V-Power Formula One fuel contains 99 per cent of the components of the V-Power fuel version meant for road cars.

But as the world gains increasing awareness of environmental issues, it seems that a high-speed and high-consumption sport like Formula One will inevitably have questions raised over its future and viability.

CHANGING DEMANDS

Lilley, who spoke to The New Paper in a phone conference, said: ‘We are already working in an advisory panel with the FIA (Formula One’s world ruling body), and we’re working closely with the authorities to meet the changing demands in this changing climate, while figuring how to keep the level of performance in the sport up.’

The FIA has already kick-started this process.

With the new ‘engine freeze’ regulations, all approved engines at the end of last season must be used during every season provisionally, through to 2010.

They have also been limited to a maximum of 19,000 rpm (revs per minute).

So with teams unable to innovate further with their cars’ thirsty engines, the focus will be on aerodynamics development.

Fuel and lubricants will also play a bigger part.

That’s where Lilley, 32, comes in.

She has degree in engineering and a PhD for research into combustion chemistry, and started working for Shell in 1995.

She then went on to spend five years working on Shell’s alternative fuels project, before joining the Formula One programme two years ago.

She said: ‘The FIA has added this emphasis to its programme, to test new alternative fuels.

‘We’re now looking at biofuel blends, and working with Ferrari on this, too.

‘On a global basis, Shell has been working on a new type of ethanol, as everyone seeks more secure and cleaner-burning alternative fuels.’

That is cellulose ethanol, an advanced biofuel made from plant fibre such as corn stalks, straw and potentially from woodchips, which does not compete for the world’s food supplies.

Then, there is Shell’s Gas to Liquids (GTL) technology, which produces a much cleaner liquid fuel derived from natural gas, for which there are more resources.

Lilley said: ‘After all, the world’s first commercial Gas to Liquids plant of its type was launched by Shell (in 1993) in (Bintulu), Malaysia, near your country.’

But since research is still new, would spectators lose interest in Formula One if it seems to lose its main appeal – speed – over the coming decade?

Eric Holthusen, fuels technology team manager for Shell Global Solutions, said: ‘Well, to prove that theory wrong, Shell has already shown the results on the race track in a competitive race at the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours race, with Audi.

‘Audi and Shell won that race last year against entirely gasoline-fuelled rivals.’

Indeed, a diesel-powered car winning one of the world’s toughest and most prestigious endurance races was not predicted so early.

But in June, at last year’s Le Mans, an Audi R10 TDI and its fuel Shell V-Power diesel – a blend of diesel and GTL fuel – won.

The Shell-powered Audi had already made motorsport history by becoming the first diesel-powered car to win a major race against gasoline-fuelled rivals at the Sebring 12-hour race in Florida two months earlier.

The Le Mans victory only confirmed its success, showing that diesel technology can combine power with greater fuel efficiency.

In both wins, the Audi needed only half the refuelling stops of its competitors, while producing less carbon dioxide and other emissions than conventional diesel.

Lilley added: ‘These technologies for biofuels and bio diesels show that at Shell, we’re already working well in advance for the future.

http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/sports/story/0,4136,127740,00.html

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