To really spice things up, though, Panoz also discussed the possibility of a new fuel to power the car: butanol derived from algae. Like ethanol, butanol is an alcohol, but with four carbon atoms rather than two. This gives it properties closer to gasoline and requires almost no modifications to the engine to use. Producing it from algae is also potentially much more cost effective and environmentally friendly than ethanol production.
When we spoke to ALMS CEO Scott Atherton at the Detroit Auto Show in January, he indicated that there was interest in bringing a fourth fuel into the mix along with diesel, E10, and cellulosic E85. ALMS spokesman Bob Dickinson has confirmed that he was talking about butanol. However, it was another manufacturer that first raised the possibility, so it was something of a surprise to hear Panoz bring it up. We still don't know if butanol will be approved for ALMS, but in the meantime, the new car could possibly race as soon as the season finale at Laguna Seca in October. Thanks to DC for the tip!