Project Ford Fiesta ST- Making the Jump to a Race Car with SPD Motorsports Part 2!


For our Fiesta ST we splurged and had SPD install a 12 gallon Fuel Safe Fuel cell. Fuel safe is a leading manufacturer of fuel cells.  A high quality company, Fuel Safe is ISO9000 certified for quality manufacturing and their products meet or exceed all FIA and SFI standards.  A fuel cell is not an ordinary fuel tank.  It is an aerospace based fuel tank that resists rupture.  In the unlikely event of a rupture the fuel cell is designed to contain and minimize spillage and fuel available to a fire. Fuel cells were developed in WWII to make fighter planes more bullet and crash resistant and were first adopted into race cars in the 1960s.  Prior to this racers had no real protection in a crash from a fuel fed fire and many drivers perished or were maimed in fires. Since fuel cells were first used, the driver’s odds of survival in a crash, have been greatly increased. A lot of Club Racers ignore the very important detail of having a crash safe fuel cell or neglect to budget it.  For this build as we have big future plans for the car, we will spare no expense and replaced the OEM plastic tank with a Fuel Safe fuel cell.  To meet rules requirements stating that a metal bulkhead has to be between the car interior and the Fuel Cell, SPD fabricated this super trick aluminum box to isolate the fuel cell from the car’s interior.  The box has an upper lid with a sturdy piano style hinge and quick key release latches.
The cell starts with a bladder (bag tank) which is the core of the system. The bladder is the flexible, extremely strong, fuel container that prevents fuel spillage in the event of a severe accident. Made from high tensile strength elastomeric coated fabric and engineered to withstand the fuel’s chemical attack, the bladder is the most important part of the fuel cell. In a bad crash the metal container of the fuel cell may bend and smash but the puncture resistant bladder will keep the fuel where it belongs.  From this view when you open the lid of the firewall box, you can see the fuel cell’s top plate.  The top plate shown here gives access to the fuel cells interior for fuel pickups and vents.  It is integrated into the bladder via a very sturdy interface with a lot of bolts to spread out the clamp load.  There are check valves in the top plate vents to prevent fuel spill in a rollover.  The fuel filler is also located in the top plate.
You can’t see it inside the red container but inside the bladder of the fuel cell there is foam baffling. The foam does several things, while displacing a very small amount of fuel, the foam reduces sloshing of the fuel. By reducing sloshing the foam keeps the fuel de-aerated which improves fuel delivery which helps provide a more constant delivery of fuel to the pickup. Another function of the foam is to prevent flash back explosions inside the fuel cell itself by not allowing free fuel vapor to accumulate in a large volume. In case the bladder were to rupture, the foam also slows the amount of free fuel spillage reducing the size of the fire and minimizing the amount of fuel exposed to oxygen.  As a final function, the foam holds the bladder in shape, important with a flexible bladder.
The final component of the fuel cell is the container. The container protects the bladder and provides a sturdy way to mount the cell in the car. Our container is made of steel sheet. A clean install is important for safety as well.  SPD located the fuel cell in front of the rear axle for protection from all but the most severe accidents and to minimize the effect of fuel loading on the car’s handling.  SPD cut a hole in the body and built a reinforced mounting structure that the fuel cell bolts to in multiple points which is great for safety.  We have seen some really poor installs where a fuel cell is bolted to the vehicle floor and held in with strap metal.  Poor mounting can cause more safety issues than the fuel cell prevents.
For a fuel pump we selected Deatschwerks’ new DW350iL inline fuel pump.  The DW350iL can move 350 liters per hour of fuel, more than enough to supply our engine in its current and all future anticipated states of tune.  The DW350iL can support as much as 750 hp.  The pump was designed to fit in the Bosch 044 footprint which is helpful.  If you didn’t know the Bosch 044 is the mother of all motorsports fuel pumps and many fuel system accessories and even cars are built around it so being a plug and play replacement for the 044 is very cool.  We also like the fact that the pump comes with -8 AN female fittings to make plumbing it a snap. The pump has a roller vane impeller and is E85 compatible. The pump also comes with isolated mounting brackets.  What takes the prize is a 3 year no fault warranty which should alleviate fears of durability with E85 use.
We chose Aeromotive’s new X1 fuel pressure regulator.  We liked the X1 because it had -8AN ports to make fuel system plumbing easy but that is not the only advantage that the X1 has. The X1 has an interchangeable diaphragm, spring and seat so you can easily convert the regulator from a low pressure optimized carburetor regulator, to a high pressure EFI regulator to a high pressure, high flow, boost referenced regulator for forced induction applications. It is all done with an inexpensive conversion kit.  It ‘s like getting 3 regulators in one.  Another feature we like is that the regulator’s exterior has been pared down and the X1 is 33% lighter than the venerable 13109 regulator.  We had previously complained to Aeromotive that their regulators were too hot rod billetish and that we would rather have a regulator that spent more CNC time to have its blockyness, bulk and weight reduced for Motorsports use.  We are glad that Aeromotive listened and put its new regulator on a diet.

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