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Last Post 07 May 2014 05:40 AM by  sjfehr
Water/ Methanol Injection Proposal
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pburkhart
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01 Apr 2014 10:50 AM

    I recently submitted the following proposal to the SEB:

     

    I am submitting a proposal for Section 15.10.G of the Street Prepared rules set which now simple says “Intake water injection systems are allowed”. I understand the rule as it now stands to require straight water in the injection system and that it disallows any water/methanol mixture. That mixture is the recommended fluid in aftermarket water injection kits. This proposal requests that a water/methanol mixture be permitted by this section of the rules. It might be worded thus, “ Intake water injection systems are allowed. The fluid injected may be a water/methanol mixture not to exceed 50% methanol.” Following are some points to consider that are about the benefits of this change to all Street Prepared competitors and the basis for this rule change and its details:

    1.       Inexpensive high tech intake water/methanol injection kits have become available, are widely promoted in the high performance aftermarket, and are a less expensive and simple bolt-on alternative to the more complex E85 conversions which have evolved as being permitted by the Street Prepared rule set. A search on the internet finds at least 6 manufacturers of intake water/methanol injection systems with a multiplicity of models, features and accessories.

    2.       For a vehicle converted to E85, adding more alcohol through an intake water/methanol injection system is likely not to be beneficial thus contributing to parity with a gasoline fueled vehicle equipped with intake water/methanol  injection.

    3.       Allowing methanol in the injected fluid would also act as an anti-freeze, reducing the seasonal maintenance requirement for competitors in northern climates.

    4.       The 50% methanol limitation requirement suggested is the industry standard for water/methanol mixtures that are not flammable.

    5.       A premixed 49% methanol/51% water “Boost Juice” fluid is now readily available making it easy and safe for the SCCA Street Prepared competitor to use. DevilsOwn Water Injection Company also has "DevilsOwn Brew" on the market.

     

    Other alcohols are suitable for mixing with water in this application and could be incorporated in the rules, however from my research, methanol appears to be the optimum and preferred recommendation by the kit manufacturers.

     

    I hope you guys find this acceptable. Your volunteer service to the membership is appreciated in these matters. Please feel free to contact me for further information or comment.

     

    The following response to the proposal was recently published in Fastrack:

      Street Prepared

    #13455 Water Injection Allowance Proposal

      The SPAC does not feel that this allowance is in the spirit of the category

    Being new to SP and in the process of preparing my first car for the category, I am unfamiliar with what the "spirit of the category" (SOC) is. I inquired of the SCCA and found that it is not specifically written down but more of a consensus in the minds of the SP competitors as to what is appropriate for the category. I have noted that the SP rules have been refined to reflect development of equipment as technology has moved forward and that is the spirit of my proposal. I did a little research and found that GM used a 50/50 water/methanol injection with the tank and equipment under the hood 50 years ago on the turbocharged Olds F-85 Jetfire, so its not new tech, but the availability of quality aftermarket kits is relatively new. I doubt anybody with a kit on their street car, at least in my climate, would ever run without methanol mixed in their system, so this is not an obscure modification disregarded or unavailable to the common enthusiast, but we disallow it in SP.

    Possibly it is a safety issue to the SPAC, which is understandable, but without specifics from them, there seems to be no more or less exposure to safety issues on the car than from any possible failures due to modifications allowed to a SP fuel system. For my personal situation, I much prefer the safety of taking a gallon of Boost Juice to an event and buying 91 Octane locally at that event versus having to safely transport ten times as much C16 race gas there, which is my expensive alternative.

    So I hope to hear discussion on this. If the SOC amongst the membership finds this a crackpot suggestion, so be it and I will let it go. If you think it has merit, please send your letters to the SEB supporting it or adding further comment.

    Cheers, Philip 

    Joseph Carozzoni
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    01 Apr 2014 05:26 PM

    Since the Boost Buggies already dominate ASP, I would not bet on it.

    As for the safety issue of transporting race gas, it would still allow others to.  So you could have a competitor not only transporting race gas, but also using Water/Meth injection.  Good luck however.

    Jerry Doctor
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    02 Apr 2014 11:02 PM
    This same suggestion came up when I was the chairman of the RX Safety Committee. I vigorously opposed it. This was based on my 40 years as a Chemistry instructor at the high school and college levels, not on the "spirit of the category."

    Methanol is VERY nasty stuff. NFPA hazard ratings (0 to 3, 3 high) are 3 for flammability and 3 for health. For comparison, gasoline is also a 3 for flammability but only a 1 for health. The short term exposure limit (STEL) for methanol is 250 ppm. Gasoline is 500 ppm. By the way, 250 ppm is about where you can begin to smell methanol. So, if you can smell it you're over the limit.

    Methanol is extremely corrosive, attacking copper, aluminum, zinc (think galvanized steel) and most plastics.

    Finally, although you may have found a source saying a 50% methanol solution isn't flammable, the DOT disagrees.

    I for one don't want to paddock next to Philip if this rule change is ever approved.

    Jerry Doctor
    ----------------
    2011: named the MiDiv Outstanding Worker
    2012: recipient of the SCCA Dirty Cup
    2013: appointed to the RallyCross Board
    2014: fired


    pburkhart
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    03 Apr 2014 10:24 AM

    Thanks, the input for possible underlying specifics for rejection beyond the catch all of "spirit of the category" is good to hear from an expert background. I would hope that safety concerns are part of the spirit of everything we do, although we all have differing levels of  expertise in our safety attitudes and practices. However, was your last line a little personal and somewhat demagoguery?  I feel safer around my car than I remember being in high school and college chem lab.  Touché  

    Cheers, Philip

    pburkhart
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    03 Apr 2014 11:19 AM

    Jerry's comments about safety caused me to search a little further. Here's a link to a MSDS on HEET: http://www.prairielandelectric.com/....pdf  If I read it right, its 99% methanol. Also my first search for a MSDS on windshield washer fluid brought up a product with up to 34% methanol. So the stuff is all around us. Seriously, after Jerry's comments and reading the MSDS's, I have a new safety respect for them and won't be carrying HEET or Washer Fluid, let alone Boost Juice in a the car with me; back of the truck for them and I will pour them carefully, HEET with rubber gloves.

    Here's a quick story of how extreme the recklessness of human nature relative to methanol can be. During WW2, my father supervised construction of airfields on the Pacific islands. His crews of laborers came fresh from the brig when they set sail from Seattle, so they weren't the brightest guys. He had to search their quarters for wood alcohol (Methanol) because they would drink anything that said alcohol on it. He saw blindness and death occur to them as a result and had to protect them from their own ignorance. We wouldn't think of ingesting it but nonetheless need to take care with many of the common chemicals in our hobby.

    Cheers, Philip 

    Panzer
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    03 Apr 2014 12:03 PM
    Posted By Jerry Doctor on 02 Apr 2014 11:02 PM

    This same suggestion came up when I was the chairman of the RX Safety Committee. I vigorously opposed it. This was based on my 40 years as a Chemistry instructor at the high school and college levels, not on the "spirit of the category."

    Methanol is VERY nasty stuff. NFPA hazard ratings (0 to 3, 3 high) are 3 for flammability and 3 for health. For comparison, gasoline is also a 3 for flammability but only a 1 for health. The short term exposure limit (STEL) for methanol is 250 ppm. Gasoline is 500 ppm. By the way, 250 ppm is about where you can begin to smell methanol. So, if you can smell it you're over the limit.

    Methanol is extremely corrosive, attacking copper, aluminum, zinc (think galvanized steel) and most plastics.

    Finally, although you may have found a source saying a 50% methanol solution isn't flammable, the DOT disagrees.

    I for one don't want to paddock next to Philip if this rule change is ever approved.

    Jerry Doctor
    ----------------
    2011: named the MiDiv Outstanding Worker
    2012: recipient of the SCCA Dirty Cup
    2013: appointed to the RallyCross Board
    2014: fired


    Don't paddock near anyone in stock or with a tow vehicle - they will most definitely have this threat in their cars. The audacity of every manufacturer to put a methanol solution in every car with a switch dangerously close to other controls is appalling.

    And to think, if you hit this switch with the top down or sunroof open you could get it on you!

    The safety issue is a red herring.

    Sent from my HTC One using Tapatalk
    pburkhart
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    03 Apr 2014 01:50 PM

    LOL, thanks Panzer, that's very entertaining sarcasm. "Red Herring", haven't heard that in a while though it seems appropriate for a lot of our national political discourse. Bing definition: "A red herring is a figurative expression referring to a logical fallacy in which a clue or piece of information is or is intended to be misleading, or distracting from the actual question." (Used to be a coffee house in Urbana, IL with that name during the Viet Nam war. I had a roommate who hung out there so I heard it every day.) So what do you thing the actual question may be? I'm a noob to SCCA politics. Are you inferring there may be another agenda buried in "spirit of the category" rejection?  SCCA staff suggested this forum as a way to flesh out the real consensus "spirit of the category" interest of the SP membership. I intend to respect the volunteer service of the SPAC and hope they would respond appropriately to input from the members they represent. That means MANY well reasoned letters, both pro and con. If any think my proposal has merit, please take a moment to write to the SEB. As Panzer so ably illustrated, we deal with the safety issues of Methanol frequently already.

    Cheers, Philip

    Jerry Doctor
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    03 Apr 2014 02:34 PM
    Philip,

    My comment about paddocking was a light-hearted way to state that I don't want to be around the stuff, not some personal shot at you. Likewise my reference to the "spirit of the category" was to emphasize that there are legitimate concerns about your suggestion. It isn't just a philosophical disagreement.

    Panzer thinks my concerns are a canard. (Calling it a red herring is so much more polite than saying I'm a liar.) The interesting part was his poking fun at me over the use of methanol in windshield wiper fluid. The problem is panzer is living in the past. While methanol used to be used in some brands to lower the freezing point it has been replaced in most cases by ethanol, isopropanol or ethylene glycol. Why was that done? It was a safety issue.

    Jerry Doctor
    ----------------
    2011: named MiDiv outstanding Worker
    2012: recipient of the SCCA Dirty Cup
    2013: appointed to the RallyCross Board
    2014: fired



    pburkhart
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    03 Apr 2014 04:42 PM

    Jerry, thanks for addressing my inquiry about the personal example. No problem.

    Ok, getting my renewed education on pejorative terms. Bing Dictionary- "Canard":a false or unfounded report or story; especially : a fabricated report b : a groundless rumor or belief. Apparently I am coming in on the end of an ongoing issue with passionate positions.

    So let's considering taking the non-philosophical issue of the safety of methanol out of the proposal. Are you suggesting that ethanol or isopropanol could be ok in a mix with water for injection since that's safe enough now in windshield washer fluid?  It appears to me the commercial purveyors of water/meth injection kits are realizing a power gain from the methanol content. From my brief study, that's less the case with the other two alcohols. So trying to narrow the basis for a "spirit of the category" rejection, if safety now was not the issue by substituing the other two alcohols, is a simple measure for adding power the issue? Seems like that what's SP is all about. I mean the rules already permit the injection equipment, this is just pouring a different liquid in the reservoir. Maybe that is a philosophical "spirit of the category" argument. 

    As an aside, does ethanol really work in washer fluid? My research says it doesn't mix well with water and separates, or do manufacturers throw something else in to keep it mixed?  

    Regards, Philip

    autocrossaddict
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    03 Apr 2014 06:28 PM
    More and more I'm seeing posts (on various turbo buddy sites) on E85 vs Meth injection. Many cars still can't run ethanol blends so the meth injection route is the 'next best option' from a tuning perspective. Also with direction injection the water/meth blend is sold as a cleaning agent to prevent carbon build up issues. Many of the more popular setups hijack the window washer tank so that it's not even a noticeable change unless you know to look for the injection lines and taps.

    I run a blend on the street primarily for carbon build up issues and knock prevention, then drain the tank and run pure water dialed way down for autoX to prevent the dreaded super knock that Minis like to get in the heat of summer.

    Jerry Doctor
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    03 Apr 2014 06:39 PM
    Philip,

    I'm not aware of an "ongoing issue" with Panzer. I have no idea who he (she?) is. I don't recall any previous contact. Having said that if you are looking for passionate positions, I'm your man.

    Would a water/ethanol or a water/isopropanol mixture work for injection? Haven't a clue. I assume that someone that wants you to give them money for more power will use whatever will give the most added power so I expect that is methanol. But in actuality, that is just my assumption. Perhaps they have other reasons. The fact that ethanol (a.k.a., booze) and isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) work for wiper fluid tells us nothing about the application you are interested in.

    Again, my objection to your proposal is solely based on my concern with the use of methanol, an extremely hazardous material. Anything that opens the door to its presence at our events is, in my not particularly humble opinion, something to be avoided.

    Ethanol and water are said to be miscible - they mix together in all proportions. Once ethanol and water have mixed (and that happens during the manufacturing process) it is impossible to completely separate them. You can get close. For well over $300 a gallon you can buy 200 proof (usually closer to 199 in truth) ethanol. But not only does it still have traces of water present, if you open the bottle in the air the ethanol will immediately start absorbing water vapor from the air lowering the proof. All of that is chem teacher talk for "don't worry about them separating."

    Jerry Doctor
    ----------------
    2011: named the MiDiv Outstanding Worker
    2012: recipient of the SCCA Dirty Cup
    2013: appointed to the RallyCross Board
    2014: fired
    pburkhart
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    03 Apr 2014 08:01 PM
    Jerry, ok, good, intended to mean positions in general, although it didn't come thru that way. No problem from me with respectful passion; its good to stand on your principles.

    Thanks also for the info on ethanol. I have seen it mentioned on at least one manufacturer's website that doesn't sell premixed water/methanol, so they don't have an interest in promoting only a methanol mix. They suggest DIY, which I am going to take your advice and stay away from with methanol, but ethanol sounds like a possibility. Maybe we are converging on an acceptable proposal if safety is the basis for the "not in the spirit of the category" rejection. I expect it will be asked, is there an easy way to distinguish between a water/methanol mix and a water/ethanol mix? Smell?

    Autocrossaddict, I am seeing the same growing usage, have a similar set up and reasons for wanting to use it, although I have been advised that I need to change the tune significantly any time I change from Boost Juice to straight water.

    Excuse me if I am being impatient, but can we expect SPAC members to weigh in with any further light and knowledge on the specifics of the rather vague "not in the spirit of the category" comment? Makes it hard to address going forward, I'm just guessing at what the real substance of the objection(s) are. I suspect the SPAC members are busy guys with not a lot of time to clearly elaborate on the decisions they have to make. Do they generally just tally up letters and go from there?

    Cheers, Philip
    Panzer
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    03 Apr 2014 10:33 PM
    Posted By Jerry Doctor on 03 Apr 2014 02:34 PM

    Philip,

    My comment about paddocking was a light-hearted way to state that I don't want to be around the stuff, not some personal shot at you. Likewise my reference to the "spirit of the category" was to emphasize that there are legitimate concerns about your suggestion. It isn't just a philosophical disagreement.

    Panzer thinks my concerns are a canard. (Calling it a red herring is so much more polite than saying I'm a liar.) The interesting part was his poking fun at me over the use of methanol in windshield wiper fluid. The problem is panzer is living in the past. While methanol used to be used in some brands to lower the freezing point it has been replaced in most cases by ethanol, isopropanol or ethylene glycol. Why was that done? It was a safety issue.

    Jerry Doctor
    ----------------
    2011: named MiDiv outstanding Worker
    2012: recipient of the SCCA Dirty Cup
    2013: appointed to the RallyCross Board
    2014: fired


    Methanol based washer fluid is still widely available and the average consumer is wildly unaware of the fluids that contain isopropanol or ethylene glycol vs methanol. A common 35% ethanol solution is just not dangerous enough to get worked up over.

    You can cry that the sky is falling, but I'd bet over a hundred million vehicles are on the road with methanol based washer fluid. When's the last time you heard of a traffic car fire caused by washer fluid?

    You are correct that pure methanol is dangerous stuff, but that danger is fortunately diluted by water.

    Methanol injection won't be allowed because it only really benefits turbo cars. It's fully within the spirit of the class, but since NA cars see little gain, it'll be denied to maintain parity.

    The same is true for boost modifications on the ST* classes. Nobody with 2 or more brain cells well deny that boost tunes are a common modification for turbo cars, yet turbo cars are forced to do plumbing tricks to accomplish boost creep in a class whose intent is accommodating common street modifications.



    Sent from my HTC One using Tapatalk
    porphyre
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    04 Apr 2014 12:49 PM
    Posted By pburkhart on 03 Apr 2014 08:01 PM
    Excuse me if I am being impatient, but can we expect SPAC members to weigh in with any further light and knowledge on the specifics of the rather vague "not in the spirit of the category" comment? Makes it hard to address going forward, I'm just guessing at what the real substance of the objection(s) are. I suspect the SPAC members are busy guys with not a lot of time to clearly elaborate on the decisions they have to make. Do they generally just tally up letters and go from there?

    Cheers, Philip

    This isn't an official message board.  The SPAC probably won't weigh in.

    Welcome to the SCCA.  The first step in any rule change YOU want is to sit down and think about how YOUR rule change will affect cars that are not YOURS.  One sided rules are frowned upon.  Panzer lays out the core issue.

    Let it go.  Go build a snowman.


    Jerry Doctor
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    05 Apr 2014 05:14 PM
    Philip,

    As a chemist, I'd determine whether it was an ethanol/water mix or methanol/water by doing an iodoform test. Simple, fast, and only a couple test reagents needed. Of course, most people don't have 1 M sodium hydroxide and an iodine/potassium iodide solution handy. If you want details you can google "iodoform test."

    There is a difference in the odors of the two mixtures but it is subtle and most people won't be able to detect it. You would really want an expert to do this. I'd suggest you find a North Carolina moonshiner! Methanol is a common problem with "white lightning."

    Again, I want to make sure my position on all of this is clear. It has nothing to do with what mods should or should not be allowed in Street Prepared. I run in Super Stock - Oops, make that A Street - so I'm not concerned with what those guys in Street Prepared are doing unless it is a safety issue. Methanol is.

    As a former competition board member (RallyCross Board) I can tell you at least some members of the SEB are following this thread but it is unlikely you will hear from them here. Board members rely on forums to see how the members feel about various issues but they are usually encouraged to refrain from taking part in the discussion. This is because a single board member's comments might be mistaken for the board's official position and because there is a need for the board as a whole to maintain a neutral attitude while listening to the discussions.

    Finally, Porphyre's snowman suggestion may be the wisest one in this thread. Change in the SCCA usually happens very slowly. I say that from experience. This month marks 44 years of membership in the SCCA for me. Classing changes and competition rule changes are always difficult because every change will benefit some and hurt others. People don't like having their vehicle go from class winner to an also ran and so they will fight that change. Unlike many competition organizations the SCCA is a club. When the boards make their decisions they consider what they think will be best for the sport. But they also have to consider the opinions of the members. If there is a large, vocal group in opposition you're going to need a heck of an argument on how your proposal is an improvement for the Solo program in general and not just for a few at the expense of others. This is not to say this is an impossible task, but it is a difficult and usually lengthy one.

    Jerry Doctor
    ----------------
    2011: named MiDiv outstanding Worker
    2012: recipient of the SCCA Dirty Cup
    2013: appointed to the RallyCross Board
    2014: fired
    TeamRX8
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    06 May 2014 10:45 PM
    run E85, mount additional staged injectors far upstream in the intake system plumbed into the main fuel system, and add water injection too. Not as good as meth/water injection, but close enough
    sjfehr
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    07 May 2014 05:40 AM

    An invisible alcohol fire is a simply terrifying prospect.  This indy500 video really put it in perspective for me:

    http://xmb.stuffucanuse.com/xmb/vie...p?tid=7262
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