As we get close to the American Le Mans series opener at Sebring, the racing news is getting piled on. So, just one more Le Mans post today, I swear!
The American Le Mans Series bills itself as “The Global Leader of Green Racing,” and they’ve got a good bit of street cred to back that up. Some of their teams now use biodegradable motor oil, and the series already has four alternatives to pure petrol power: E-85, E-10, low-sulfur diesel, and hybrid-electric. Well now you can add isobutanol to that last, as it will be running in the Dyson-Mazda Lola prototype cars this weekend.
The fuel was developed by Dyson Racing’s primary sponsor, BP, which has consistently been ranked as the “greenest” oil company for its investment in alternative fuels. Isobutanol is a 20% blend of biobutanol and 80% ethanol, and while the benefits or detriments from using the fuel could be debated endlessly, the most important point is that it isn’t petrol. The Lola-chassis cars are powered by 500 horsepower, 2.0 liter turbocharged Mazda engines, and until the ALMS can determine what affect the the fuel will have on the engines, the two prototype cars will be required to carry 30 kilos of ballast for the first two races.
Isobutanol is made through fermenting certain sugars, and it has many benefits when compared to pure ethanol. For one, its energy output is nearly on par with that of gasoline, whereas ethanol is about 30% less effective in a traditional internal combustion engine. It also requires less energy than ethanol to harvest, and it has an even higher octane level. Higher octane means more power… hence the ballast weighing the Lolas down.
I’ll be keeping a close eye on the Dyson cars this weekend to see how they match up with the rest of the field.
Turn the page for the full press release.