An Introduction to Fuel Cells and FIA Certification
Radium Engineering offers top of the line fuel delivery solutions for the motorsports market, including fuel cells. Many consider fuel cells as a simple metal container, when in fact a proper fuel cell is more complex for safety purposes.  A basic aluminum, stainless or mild steel container can easily leak in the event of a collision and could lead to a dangerous fire situation. Even a minor fender bender could create enough force to distort and crack the metal container, resulting in fuel spillage. Fuel weighs roughly 10lb per gallon, and with a 12 gallon fuel cell that is 120lb of fuel sloshing around inside the metal box, flexing the walls and straining the welds. When that much weight is subject to g-loading from aggressive driving, the resulting forces are very large and can damage poorly designed metal containers. Also, chemical compatibility, weld quality and corrosion are concerns when using a plain metal container for fuel storage.

Fuel cells used in motorsport racing often require FIA certification to ensure safety requirements are met. The guide below helps explain how a fuel cell works and why certification is necessary.
 
What is a Fuel Cell?
As shown, fuel cells are generally comprised of three components: the outer shell (enclosure or can), the bladder (where fuel resides) and foam baffling.
Radium Engineering fuel cell enclosures are made from aluminum, but others are generally made from steel. The enclosure is the first part of the cell to absorb damage and to help prevent a serious catastrophe. This layer is similar to the construction of a helmet. The outer enclosure aids in safety but is not the most critical part. FIA does not have a standard thickness for the outer enclosure. Other governing bodies do require certain thicknesses. For instance, SCCA requires a fully enveloped enclosure comprised of 0.036” steel or 0.059” aluminum.
 
The fuel cell bladder protects from fuel spills. The bladder holds fuel and must be resilient against impacts, punctures, and tears. The material also needs to be flexible enough to prevent cracking or fuel leakage in the case of impact. These two requirements have led to the development of high-tech materials. There are a few different materials used for bladders that vary from manufacturer. The fabric-based bladders are comprised of aramid fibers coated with special elastomers while the rigid bladders are rotomolded from a fuel resistant plastic.

Radium Engineering offers the following bladders with FIA certification:
-Enduro (Molded plastic material)
-ProCell (Coated fabric)
-Spectra-Lite (Coated fabric)

The foam baffling is basically a large sponge inside the fuel cell. If catastrophic failure were to happen, this porous foam helps absorb the fuel and prevent an explosion. As an added benefit, it helps prevent fuel slosh which could adversely affect performance.
 
What is FIA?
The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) promotes road safety around the world.
 
The prominent role is the licensing and sanctioning of F1, WRC, World Endurance Championship, and various forms of sports car and touring car racing. 
 
FIA Certification
For the safety of the driver, FIA certification is required in many forms of racing. This certification covers many components including fuel cells. FIA certification has a few distinct classifications: FIA FT3, FT3.5, and FT5. There are other standards required by sanctioning bodies, but FIA is inline with most forms of racing. 
 
FIA Certification Levels
All of the ratings clearly define the requirements for materials, construction, and testing. The only difference between the ratings is the strength of the bladder material. All tests utilize the same procedures but the levels of certification are based on test results. FT3 is the lowest level requiring the lowest minimums while FT5 requires the highest.
 
FT3: Requires 450 pounds of tensile and puncture strength.
FT3.5: Requires 1000 pounds of tensile and puncture strength.
FT5: Requires 2000 pounds of tensile and puncture strength.
 
For example, Formula-1 requires FT5, but SCCA requires FT3 (although FT3.5 and FT5 are also acceptable.)
 
Certification Expiration
Fuel cell certification expires 5 years after the date of manufacture. There is an option to have fuel cells inspected. They can receive recertification for up to 2 more years. Maximum total lifespan of a fuel cell is 7 years. Check the label on the fuel cell bladder for an expiration date.
 
Fuel Cell Deterioration
Many factors contribute to the bladder breaking down overtime. Anything from heat, UV light, vibrations, and the fuel itself will eventually break down the elastomers. Water and alcohol cause deterioration more rapidly. 
 
Maintenance
Fuel cells generally require some level of maintenance. Regular maintenance ensures it will last the full 5 years and stand a higher chance of recertification.
 
Maintenance tips: Empty the fuel cell during offseason storage. If fuel with any alcohol content is used, such as E15, the fuel cell should be drained after every event. This will extend the life of the fuel cell. Alcohol is most damaging to the foam. Proper care of this part of the cell is crucial for maintenance. Foam breaks down over time and particles can clog the fuel system. It is ideal to periodically replace the foam in the cell to increase cell longevity.
 
Inspection: While you are replacing the foam, always inspect the bladder. Check for chaffing against the container and apply edge tape as necessary. Check to make sure the bladder is not delaminating from the aramid fabric or cracking in the elastomer. Cracks commonly form in the folds and around molded areas. Cracks cannot be repaired without being taken to a proper facility. Cracked bladders must be replaced. It is always a good idea to inspect at the end of the season instead of the weekend before the new season starts.
 
Top Tip: Effective January 2013, all certified cells include a hologram with FIA labeling. Because the FIA certification is not replaceable, bring it to the event. If the form is lost, it cannot be replaced. Worst case scenario, the cell can be dismantled to show the FIA hologram on the bladder. However, this will unlikely be accepted through tech.

While metal box style "fuel cells" are prevelant on the discount market, they offer little to no engineering or regard to safety. The added cost of a bladder-style fuel cell can be easily justified in the event of an incident. 

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Testing the TI Automotive (Walbro) F90000285 Fuel Pump
Introduction
In the spring of 2018, TI Automotive (parent company of Walbro) released their newest version of the popular Walbro "450" pump. This new pump can be identified by the part number stamped on the side: F90000285. Many in the industry have already started calling this pump by all sorts of names like "Walbro 520" or some other random number, even though the number is not close to the actual flow rate....at all. So what is so special about this new pump compared to the current versions of the "450" pump?

(PS Ti Automotive is trying to phase out the name "Walbro", so you will only see the Ti logo on these pumps)

A Brief History
Without an official trade name, and just a hard-to-say 9-digit part number from TI Automotive, the aftermarket industry has been referring to the family of 39/50 DCSS pumps as the "Walbro 400" or "Walbro 450" or any other made-up name that has been created. At Radium Engineering, we refer to these pumps by the 9-digit part number as this is the only reliable method. Plus, the part numbers are printed right on the side of every pump. 
The 39/50 refers to the pump's outside diameter. It was the first to use a large diameter impeller, necessitating the need for the 50mm diameter lower section. The upper section was left at 39mm (standard fuel pump diameter) most likely to keep the pump compatible with many existing packages.
The first pumps to come out were the gas-only F90000262 and the gas/E85 version F90000267. These pumps were already in OEM applications and it took time and convincing by TI Automotive employees to offer them for aftermarket use. Once released, these pumps became extremely popular.


Then came a new version of the E85 pump, the F90000274. This pump was exactly the same as the F90000267, with the only change being a higher pressure relief valve setting of 112psi, versus 87psi on the F90000267. The F90000274 pump was ideal for users that were experiencing the pressure relief valve opening under high pressure and the pump flow dropping off suddenly. More information on this issue can be found HERE.

We have been selling the F90000274 in Radium Engineering products for several years now. It has been extremely popular and has also proven to be reliable when installed and used correctly.

The New F90000285

Without warning, in the Spring of 2018, TI Automotive quietly released the F90000285 pump. This new version of the 39/50 DCSS E85 pump is rumored to be a descendent of the fuel pump(s) used in the FCA Hellcat vehicles. This pump peaked our interest, so we decided to do some testing.

The F90000285 pump has the exact same form factor as the 274 and 267 pumps, so it installs anywhere the other pumps do and will be a direct drop-in replacement.

Testing

In order to figure out what exactly this new pump is capable of, physical flow bench testing had to be done. Pump testing, like dyno testing a vehicle, can result in different results depending on who is doing the testing, the equipment being used, the test methodology and the ambient conditions. So comparing pump flow results between two different sources is not advised.
Our test method included testing three of the Walbro F90000274 pumps we had in stock and taking the one with the highest flow rate, as there are inherent flow differences right out of the box with new pumps. We then run the pumps we are going to test for several minutes and let them break in and heat cycle. We had only one F90000285 to use for testing, so we were not able to test several and pick the best one.
Once the pre-test preparations are done, we are then ready to flow test. The F90000274 and F90000285 were tested back-to-back in identical conditions. 

The above graph shows the results of the F90000285 (blue) vs the F90000274 (green) flow vs pressure. 


Our data shows us that the F90000285 pump flows 8% more than the F90000274 pump, but in order for that to happen, it has to draw 15% more current. So it is essentially the same pump, but using more current to drive the electric motor harder. We also can see that the pump most likely has the same pressure relief valve setting as the 274 pump, because it was still flowing well at 95 psi.

Conclusion

The new F90000285 pump may be just what is needed for some customers who are maxxing out an F90000274 pump or just want some extra head room. You get 8% more flow than the F90000274 (and F90000267), but you are paying for it with more current draw and more wasted heat being lost into the fuel. So there is a tradeoff.
The extra cost of the F90000285 will also be a factor. 

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New Products for the 2015+ Subaru WRX
Radium Engineering has just released a range of products for the 2015+ Subaru WRX with the FA20 engine. These products are designed to improve the driveability and performance of the WRX without sacrificing reliability. 
The WRX version of the FA20 engine is equipped with tumble generator valves to assist with emissions during cold engine temperatures. These devices also impede air flow in the intake manifold runners. By eliminating the obstruction, a clear airflow path is established. The Radium Engineering TGV deletes are machined from 6061 aluminum and anodized green or black. Installation is quick and easy (compared to EJ-series engines) and can be performed in about 30 minutes.


The tumble generator valves are an emissions control device, and as such should be removed only for vehicle operating off-highway. It is also recommended that a complimentary engine management tune be implemented to take full advantage of the TGV deletes. No permanent modifications to the vehicle are necessary to install the TGV delete kit.

Even with low mileage modern cars, oil accumulation in the air intake stream can happen. The Subaru FA20 engine places the turbocharger down low, in front of the engine. This leads to oil from the PCV system collecting in the turbo air inlet pipe, down near the turbocharger. This oil is result of blow by coming through the crankcase ventilation system. This oil will eventually be digested by the turbocharger and deposited through the charge piping and can even result in blue smoke from the tailpipe. 

The Radium Engineering Dual Catch Can Kit intercepts the PCV gasses and traps the oil and other pollutants before they can make it back into the intake stream. The kit tucks in perfectly on the RH side of the engine bay next to the ABS module, mounts to existing engine bay fasteners and requiring no relocating of engine bay components. The front catch can intercepts the crank case vent hose that connects to the turbo inlet pipe, keeping oil out of the turbo inlet. The rear catch can intercepts the PCV hose coming off the block and going to the intake manifold, keeping oil out of the intake manifold. The catch cans are designed to withstand boost pressure and are sealed, so direct connection to the intake manifold, even with forced induction, is OK.
This kit is perfect for a street driven car experiencing mild amounts of blow-by.

For more race-centered applications, or cars with built high-powered engines, more oil blow by is usually experienced, often overwhelming the volume of the standard Radium catch cans.  For these applications Radium Engineering applied it's Air/Oil separator to the FA20 engine.

The Air/Oil Separator functions in a similar manner to the catch cans, however, the big difference is that oil is returned back to the engine, rather than stored in the catch can. But catch cans do not only catch oil, they also catch water condensation and it is not ideal to have this water mix with the oil, then return it to the engine. To remedy this, the Radium AOS is heated with engine coolant. This keeps the water vapor from condensing and mixing with the oil.

Engine coolant is plumbed through the bottom plate of the AOS.

Another important aspect of the AOS is that it does away with the function of the PCV valve. Instead, the engine is allowed to breathe freely from both the crank case vent port (at the front of the engine) and the PCV valve port (under intake manifold). The PCV valve is removed from the engine block and replaced with Radium's custom made PCV delete fitting, shown below.

This fitting screws into the block and adapts to a -10AN male. It is straight through, with no check valve or any other device built in. This allows maximum ventilation to the AOS through this port. This is also the path for collected oil to drain back to the engine block.
With both engine ports breathing freely into the AOS, the AOS needs to be vented to atmospheric pressure. This is done by routing the AOS side port back to the turbo inlet pipe. This creates a closed-loop system.
The AOS was designed to mount in the engine bay near the brake master cylinder (for LHD vehicles only) using the Radium Master Cylinder Brace for the 2015+ WRX as the mounting point.

The master cylinder brace is a simple and effective way to reduce firewall flex resulting from brake pedal pressure.It is machined from 6061 aluminum and mounts to the strut tower using pre-existing threaded holes. Clearly visible in the photo below are the three threaded holes in the brace where the AOS bracket attaches.  The brace is sold as an individual item, or as part of the AOS kit.

While installing an AOS kit can be done with the stock fuel feed hose, Radium offers an aftermarket fuel feed hose replacement that cleans up the fuel routing and offers better clearance with the AOS. The hose has a PTFE core that is compatible with all fuel types and also features machine-crimped end fittings.

For all of the products shown here, and a few more, please click HERE.
Details
New Product Release: Subaru AOS and Oil Catch Cans
It is well known that Subaru engines are prone to excessive blow-by, creating a collection of oil and other contaminants in the intake system and intercooler. Do you ever see blue smoke in the rear view mirror? This is typically the contaminants getting burned through the combustion process. 

Shown above is a Subaru valve cover vent crossover pipe that is almost completely clogged with oil residue and carbon build-up.


Radium Engineering Solutions

1. Dual Catch Can Kit
For street driven or lightly modified vehicles, a simple oil catch can system will often do the trick. Radium Engineering has utilized its compact catch cans to created an integrated package for installation into various 2002-2014 Subaru engine bays. The catch cans are designed to collect and retain the oil and other contaminants, preventing them from being cycled back through the engine's air intake and intercooler system.
                                              CLICK HERE to learn more about the Radium Engineering catch cans.


The Subaru Dual Catch Can kit mounts on the RH stut tower and includes two catch cans. The forward catch can is plumbed in-line with the valve cover crankcase vents. This catch can filters and cleans the gasses before they are drawn into the intake pipe. It is responsible for keeping blow-by oil and other pollutants out of the turbo inlet pipe, turbocharger, and intercooler during high engine loads. The rear catch can intercepts the vacuum hose between the intake manifold and PCV valve. This catch can keeps oil and sludge out of the intake manifold. It functions when the engine is in vacuum and the PCV valve is open. The PCV system dynamically changes depending on the throttle body position. See below:

As shown above, when the throttle is closed, the one-way PCV "check" valve opens.

When the throttle is open, the PCV valve closes and all the crank venting is happening through the valve cover vents. The air being sucked in by the turbocharger helps create negative pressure in the intake pipe, which then results in a mild vacuum to the crankcase vent catch can, to help draw out the gasses. In all engine load scenarios, the PCV system promotes negative pressure in the crankcase that can extend engine life.

With the kit mounted in the area of the turbocharger, protection from heat is accomplished with a modular heat shield (shown above). This is necessary to keep the temperature of the catch cans down and help promote condensation of water vapor inside the catch cans where it is collected along with oil and unburnt fuel. The catch cans should be periodically checked using the dipsticks and drained as needed. To dispose the fluid, simply remove the 4 heat shield mounting bolts with a 3mm Allen wrench. The lower half of the catch can bodies unscrew for easy servicing. Always properly dispose of the contaminants. Do not pour catch can contents back into the engine oil.

Click here for the Subaru Dual Catch Can Kit product page



2. Air Oil Separator (AOS) Kit
With a higher engine power output comes an increase in oil circulating through the crankcase ventilation system. Horizontally opposed engines, in particular, expel an excessive amount of oil through the ventilation system. In extreme cases, this may overwhelm the capacity of the standard sized catch cans during long track sessions. Instead of using a large reservoir to retain all the collected contaminants, the oil can be returned to the pan. However, this process must take into account several considerations in order to function properly. 

Shown above is the Radium Engineering Air Oil Separator (AOS). The AOS is built on the foundation of the Radium Competition Catch Can, but with a new specifically designed bottom plate. Full CNC construction, sealed with O-rings and anodized. The AOS still features all of the same oil baffling media found in the competition catch cans. However, instead of collecting oil, the AOS drains back to the engine through the large baffled -10AN ORB bottom port, shown above.



The bottom plate not only features a large oil return port, it also functions as a heater to prevent water from condensing inside the can. The heater is fed by coolant circulating to/from the engine. The cooling fins, shown above, increase the effective surface area of the heating element. Also, if any water were to make it's way into the canister, it would be trapped underneath the lower density oil in the bottom trench. The center port baffle provides a layer of protection to keep debris from enterning the crankcase. 

For AOS crankcase plumbing, the valve cover vents are routed into the top inlet where the stainless steel condensing material separates the oil from the gasses. The PCV valve is removed and the system is no longer hooked up to the intake manifold (vacuum). The crankcase port in the center of the block (green arrows) is now routed directly to the AOS bottom port with a large diameter -12AN (3/4" ID) hose. The filtered liquid oil is collected at the bottom of the AOS and is drawn into the oil pan through the 3/4" hose. Meanwhile, the clean crankcase air can either be vented to atmosphere (VTA) or recirculated to the turbo air inlet pipe (see instructions for details) out of the side port of the AOS.

The AOS completely disassembles for easy servicing when needed, as shown above. 

Because of limited vertical clearance, special low-profile banjo style fittings were developed for the Subaru AOS kit. These fittings are super compact, yet high flowing. They are machined from aluminum and anodized.

Radium installation kits include all necessary parts for an easy bolt-in process.

Shown above is the AOS system fully assembled with a Subaru specific mounting bracket and fittings.

When installed, the valve cover vent lines "Y" together and are plumbed into the top port of the AOS can. The side port is used as the vent to atmosphere (VTA), or it can be routed to the turbo inlet pipe for a closed system. The bottom port of the AOS can is plumbed with a 3/4" hose to the crankcase vent port on top of the block. This line acts as a way for crankcase gasses to enter the AOS, but also functions as the path for oil to return back to the oil pan.
 
Click here for the Subaru AOS Kit product page

Both Dual Catch Can and AOS kits are available for the Subaru WRX, WRX STi and Forester XT in the 2002-2014 model year range.

Contact info@radiumauto.com with any questions.

Details
New Product: Adjustable Fuel Pressure Regulator

Radium Engineering is proud to announce an all new universal adjustable fuel pressure regulator (AFPR) for high performance vehicles.


The AFPR is CNC machined aluminum which is anodized black and laser engraved. Instead of tapered pipe threads, the unit design includes 5 ports that are O-ring sealed.

So why another regulator?  With all of the universal FPRs on the market, we could not find one that installed seamlessly into multiple pump fuel systems. To solve the problem, installers were left with a choice of using Y-blocks and other awkward T-fittings for proper plumbing. So we decided to create a solution with a new high flow regulator, keeping in mind the needs of our fuel surge tank customers. Lets take a closer look at the AFPR and see why it is the best choice for difficult fuel plumbing situations.



The arrangement of the AFPR ports are different than any other regulator. Every FPR on the market directs the return port downwards out the bottom of the unit. This makes it limited to wall mounting and difficult to nearly impossible to mount the FPR to a floor. Furthermore, the return port requires a 90 degree elbow which are expensive and not always available with a swivel option. We took this port and converted it into a "return chamber" (bottom port shown above) that runs in-line with the high pressure ports. The chamber is threaded at each end for 9/16"-18 (-6AN). This allows the regulator to be easily floor mounted, such as in a trunk near a surge tank, without any 90 degree hose-end fittings. The installer can choose to connect the return line to either end of the return chamber making the AFPR suitable for their installation. Unless there is a need to use two -6AN return hoses, the opposite end is blocked off using the included plug(s).



Here is a cut-away (fittings installed in all ports) showing the return chamber. Bypassed fuel comes down the center of the body into the fuel return chamber then exits through the return port(s).


The high pressure ports on the AFPR are also unique. Most regulators have single ports on opposing sides. This is not always helpful when working with multiple fuel pump lines. The Radium AFPR is configured with 3 high pressure ports; two 9/16"-18 (-6AN) and one 3/4"-16 (-8AN). Shown in the picture above is the -8AN (top port).


On the opposite side, there are two -6AN pressure ports (shown above). This design makes plumbing two fuel pumps easy and eliminates the need for an expensive Y-block fitting. Each pump can feed into one of the -6AN pressure ports. The -8AN port on the opposing side is then used to route fuel to the rail(s). This is an excellent way to construct a robust dead-end fuel system which is ideal to keep fuel temperatures low. The AFPR can also be easily used as a traditional return-style regulator. Please visit the product page to find additional information on plumbing the AFPR.

On most other aftermarket FPRs, there is a 1/8" NPT port on the front of the unit. When not using this for a transducer, gauge, sensor, etc. it has to be plugged with pipe tape or paste. Often times there is no room for these ancillary components as the entire unit as a whole becomes too big and causes interference with nearby objects, such as an intake manifold. Furthermore, in cases such as a returnless system, the pressure reading should be taken at the fuel rail for accuracy. The AFPR does away with an integrated pipe fitting. Instead, if the -8AN port is not used and the AFPR is mounted near the fuel rail, Radium offers a special billet 1/8" NPT adapter fitting (shown in green) to connect gauges, sensors, transducers, etc.

Furthermore, when this port is used, the component sits inline with the hoses making it less prone to object interference.


The AFPR also features a unique interchangeable return port that accepts 3 different ID orifices. This allows 1 regulator to work with a wide range of fuel systems. The AFPR has been tested using ranges from low flow OEM pumps to multiple fuel pumps delivering over 1400LPH of fuel flow. This means the AFPR can be used in virtually any fuel injection application. All that is required is a simple swap of the included orifices (0.10in, 0.18in, 0.25in).

Shown in the graph above is the minimum fuel pressure the regulator can provide as a function of pump flow rate.


For fine-tuning fuel pressure, a stainless steel set screw and jam nut is used. The OEM quality diaphragm changes fuel pressure at a 1:1 ratio when the 5mm barb is connected to a vacuum source.


The included powder coated bracket can be used to mount the AFPR to a floor or other flat surface. For wall mounting, simply secure the AFPR using the 2 through-holes in the regulator body and long M6 stainless steel bolts (the bracket is not required). Also, when wall mounting the AFPR, it can be flipped 180 degrees to suit the direction of which side the -8AN and two -6AN ports are pointed.

Like all Radium Engineering products, the AFPR is made in the USA and carries a lifetime warranty. For more information, please visit the AFPR product page in the Radium online store.

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