Cellulosic Ethanol Drives Le Mans

The American Le Mans Series season opener will debut cellulosic E85 racing ethanol.

In a technological breakthrough in both the renewable fuels arena and racing, KL Process Design Group of Rapid City, SD, will supply the American Le Mans Series with cellulosic E85 racing ethanol for the 2008 season. The fuel, produced from waste wood, will be used for the first time during the season opener, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 15.

Consumer E85 is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Cellulosic ethanol is produced from biomass such as wood waste, switchgrass, or citrus. Corvette Racing will be the first team to use the cellulosic-based flex-fuel ethanol in competition.

"This is a groundbreaking achievement not only in motorsports, but also in the drive to relevant fuel technologies," says Scott Atherton, president and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. "The American Le Mans Series was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. EPA as the only motorsports entity to meet the criteria for ‘green racing’. Introducing cellulosic E85 racing ethanol to our series with one of our most noted championship teams does nothing but reinforce our commitment to be the global leader in green racing."

The trend toward renewable fuels in racing has been driven in large part by the Omaha, NE-based Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC). Through the marketing partnership with EPIC, the American Le Mans Series will drive awareness of ethanol among consumers through its use of both E10 and E85 ethanol.

The KL Process Design Group plant providing the fuel is located 1 mile south of Upton, WY, and is the first commercially operational cellulosic ethanol facility in the U.S. The pioneering plant is the result of six years of development efforts between KL and local universities.

According to a U.S. Department of Energy study conducted by the Argonne Laboratories of the University of Chicago, one of the benefits of cellulosic ethanol is that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent over reformulated gasoline. Cellulosic ethanol also yields roughly 80 percent more energy than is required to grow and convert it.

There will be at least two automotive manufacturers that will run E85 during the 2008 season — Corvette Racing and Aston Martin Racing.

 

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