When we spoke with American Le Mans Series CEO Scott Atherton at the Detroit Auto Show last January he revealed that discussions were being held between the series and parties interested in racing with a new fuel. At the time he declined to reveal the nature of the fuel but expected to announce something during the 2009 season. We're now down to the second-to-last-race of 2009 and a fourth fuel has finally arrived.
Dyson Racing's LMP2 #16 Lola-Mazda is running unclassified at this weekend's Petiti Le Mans because its fuel tank will be filled with a blend of biobutanol and ethanol. This is the first use of butanol in an ALMS car. Dyson has been working with its primary sponsor, BP, and engine supplier Mazda to develop the new fuel which is currently produced from sugar cane but can also be produced from cellulosic sources. Butanol has several advantages over ethanol including higher energy density allowing mileage and power closer to gasoline. Because it doesn't have the same tendency to absorb water that causes corrosion, it can be blended with gasoline in higher concentrations without modifying the engines. Hopefully in 2010 we'll see cars running for points fueled by butanol all season long.