Why not Methanol? | Fuel Tips

By Staff Writer
Dec 8, 2021 | Sunoco, Fuel Tips, Sponsored Content, Methanol | Posted in Features | From the April 2020 issue | Never miss an article

Sponsored article presented by Sunoco.


Running methanol as a fuel sounds great–even more performance potential at a lower price. But, first, some considerations:

  • Methanol is the simplest form of alcohol. “Methanol and ethanol are commodities and used in massive amounts in the chemical industry,” explains Zachary Santner, technical specialist with Sunoco Race Fuels. “We do allow our dealers to sell methanol under the Sunoco brand as long as it meets minimum quality specs. The source can be from various feed-stocks.” Methanol will kill you dead if consumed, though.
  • We found an online dealer offering a 5-gallon pail of Sunoco-branded methanol for $48; they get $89 for the same quantity of Sunoco E85-R, a race fuel that contains 85% ethanol. But while methanol costs less than race fuel, Santner adds, racers will use a lot more of it, negating the advantage.
  • Methanol has an even higher octane rating than ethanol, but it is difficult to assign an Anti-Knock Index,” Santner continues. In the simplest of terms, the scale used for octane ratings doesn’t easily transfer to high-alcohol fuels.
  • Sunoco 260 GT, a popular race fuel, has a stoichiometric air/fuel ratio of 14.1:1. The ideal air/fuel ratio for E85-R is 9.8:1. Methanol is happiest around 6.5:1. “This ratio is mass air/mass fuel,” Santner explains. “If we take the inverse of these ratios, we can have mass of fuel needed per mass of air brought into engine. Methanol would be 0.15 while 260 GT is 0.07, meaning roughly half as much fuel mass is needed. Since twice as much mass of methanol is being evaporated in the intake, there will be even more cooling in the intake, leading to a denser air/fuel mixture.”
  • While methanol is popular in some forms of motorsports, sports car racing isn’t always on that list. The fact that methanol burns clear can be an issue. Many sanctioning bodies either specifically ban it or don’t list it under their approved fuels.
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GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/20 2:54 p.m.

The width of dem meats on the C5

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/18/21 8:59 a.m.

In reply to GameboyRMH :

Pretty beefy. Not running 205/50R15s on this one. 

frenchyd UltimaDork
11/18/21 9:13 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

You die not only if you drink it, but it can cause cancer if it gets on your skin  and has caused problems if it's breathed in.  
 While it's an alcohol, it's the bad alcohol !   

paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
11/18/21 4:46 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

Still less toxic than race gas.

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
11/18/21 8:43 p.m.

I have had some good luck with it. Total pita when it is cold out. Bring some acetone or starting fluid. 

MotorsportsGordon Dork
11/18/21 9:20 p.m.

Methonal is cheaper then race gas though you will use more of it but with the lower cost at worst u will pay about the same fuel wise. However methonal however runs much cooler then race gas so you shouldn't have to worry about overheating. From my experience with the dirt late models the guys running race gas are always struggling to keep their engines running too hot. One guy who races lots in the states run race gas for a number of years to help run at a lower weight but last year gave up and went back to methonal as whatever weight he might have saved wasn't worth all the headaches the came with race gas.

frenchyd UltimaDork
11/19/21 7:29 a.m.

In reply to Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) :

Cool damp Nights the injector throats can actually frost over using either Ethanol or methanol.  
Standard starting technique is fill a squirt oil can with gasoline and  give each injector throat a solid squirt. 

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
11/19/21 9:23 a.m.

We're talking engines made in this century, they're on port EFI wink no freezing issues and not always a great way to squirt gas into each port. 

I personally use VP M5 which helps a little bit. I have been doing long term testing on some PTFE fuel lines and full SS injectors to see if it all lives with it in the tank for months at a time with no pickling. Working OK so far.

frenchyd UltimaDork
11/19/21 11:41 a.m.

In reply to Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) :

Methanol needs so much more fuel that very few stock injectors have the capability.  
      If you limit it to this century's engines then the beloved Chevy small block  is out too.   I like Kinslers's mechanical fuel injection for its simplicity.   Plus the similarity to the Hilborn injection system. 
    To squirt in starting gasoline, drill a hole into each leg of the EFI going into a cylinder  then put a piece of aluminum tape over the hole.  ( unless it's boosted ) 

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
11/19/21 2:56 p.m.

Believe me I know what it needs, I use it already cool not using some hokey alum tape, these are real race motors not old boat anchors laugh I just use some starting fluid into the intake pipe, it's enough to kick it off. I only need it under about 40F on M5 and 50F on M1. Sometimes if we are running a non rules race on M1 in the cold I add a bit of acetone (won't pass fuel test)

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