Got questions?

We’ve got the answers—the Summit Racing tech department tackles your automotive-related conundrums. This week, we discuss the basics of compression and how it relates to your fuel octane.

R.B. • East Aurora, NY

Q: This might seem like a simple question, but what is the difference between a fuel tank and a fuel cell? Why are fuel cells required in the real fast race cars instead of tanks?

A: The biggest difference between a factory type fuel tank and a fuel cell is burst strength. Because fuel cells are designed primarily for racing, they have a very high burst strength to prevent fuel from spilling out in the event of a collision or a rollover. A factory fuel tank (steel or plastic) is simply not built to take that kind of abuse.

Additionally, fuel cells have a non-vented cap and a rollover, or tip, valve in the vent line to prevent fuel from spilling out during an accident. For further safety, most racing sanctioning bodies require fuel cells to be mounted in a vehicle’s trunk or caged in steel tubing.



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Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.