Thursday, February 14, 2008

American Le Mans Series Goes Cellulosic

Sebring International Raceway has announced the 2008 inductees into the Sebring Sports Car Racing Hall of Fame. American Le Mans Series team owner Roger Penske, Derek Bell, Hans Stuck, David Cowart and Audi will join the prestigious Hall of Fame during ceremonies on Friday, March 14, the day before the 56th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. Image Credit: Dan Boyd, American Le Mans Series

American Le Mans Series Goes Cellulosic

North American racing enthusiasts have long known the benefits of using the renewable energy fuel, Corn Based Ethanol … beginning with CART (when open-wheel racing was unified) and its current form Champ Car World Series and Indianapolis Racing League. Its main benefit as a racing fuel is that the fuel can be diluted with water, making it much easier to control should a spill happen through the action of a pit stop.

Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing’s #2 DP01 race car in technical inspection on day two of qualifications for the 2008 Long Beach Grand Prix. The car driven by Graham Rahal, son of racing legend Bobby Rahal, is one of two American-born drivers to compete in the Champ Car World Series for 2008. The other driver is Alex Figge driving car #29 for Pacific Coast Motorsports. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (… notes from The EDJE) - 2007

This year will see the first series to introduce the exclusive use of a greener form of Ethanol. The American Le Mans Series full bodied sport car racing series that will be here for their third race of a twelve race season, at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 18-20, 2008, will run the full year on Cellulosic Ethanol.

Cellulosic Ethanol, while chemically the same as ethanol made from a food source (Corn), uses fermented and converted fiber material from grasses, landscape yard waste, twigs, and the waste husks from Corn to make a more efficient form of biofuel. Many believe that this process approach will become the future biofuel process to allow reduced dependence on petroleum based fuels for everyday use.

Cellulosic Ethanol is just what Corvette Racing will be using to power their C6.R racing cars this season. The C6.R competes in the GT1 class, which features production-based sportscars that have then been highly modified. Image Credit: ARS Technica

This excerpted from ARS Technica -

Cellulosic ethanol makes its racing debut
By Jonathan M. Gitlin Published: February 12, 2008 - 03:01PM CT

It might seem odd for someone who writes about climate change to be a racing fan, but no one ever said life was uncomplicated. Concern for the environment and a desire to see cars run flat out around a track aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, as car companies and racing teams test new automotive technology in the crucible that is the race track.

Most major racing series, mindful of the need to put out a more green image, have plans in the works to make their industry a little more environmentally friendly.
But if you're looking for a racing series that best advances automotive technology, you need to be watching the American Le Mans Series.

A series that runs in the US with rules (mainly) written by the organizers of the 24-hour race at Le Mans, the ALMS is a series for sports cars, from the production-based GT1 and GT2 classes to the exotic, carbon-fiber bodied P1 and P2 prototype classes. Audi and Peugeot have been contesting the P1 class with a pair of prototypes (the R10 and 908) that both feature V12 diesel engines, and most other competitors are using a biofuel ethanol/gasoline blend.

However, although corn's use as a biofuel has been touted frequently by politicians (who may or may not have been campaigning in Iowa), it is becoming more and more obvious that corn-based ethanol is not the panacea once thought. Cellulosic ethanol, on the other hand, doesn't involve taking food and converting it to fuel. And that's just what Corvette Racing are going to be using to power their C6.R racing cars this season. The C6.R competes in the GT1 class, which features production-based sportscars that have then been highly modified. Earlier today, I got a chance to speak to team boss Doug Feehan about the fuel switch for 2008.

Feehan explained to me that they feel cellulosic ethanol, supplied by KL Process Design Group, represents the second generation of biofuels, and the team wants to be on the forefront of the industry as they move away from corn-based biofuels to more environmentally sound sources. The C6.Rs will use the biofuel in the ALMS series, but not at Le Mans this summer, where they hope to make last year's Aston Martin victory a one-off. The seven-liter V8 engines are quite happy using the E85 fuel, but fuel consumption is around 20-25 percent worse than gasoline. It is expected that the sport's sanctioning body will require GT cars that aren't using E85 to fit smaller gas tanks to compensate.

You'll be able to see for yourself how the switch is going at the first race of the season, The 12 Hours of Sebring, which will be held March 12 through 15, and later in the season, we hope to have a look at the car in person and report how they're getting on. For racing to continue to be relevant, it has to respond to the world around us, and, as far as the ALMS goes, it seems to be responding well.
Reference Here>>

... notes from The EDJE

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