Fuel Efficiency and Cellulosic Ethanol Fuel MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge Winners at ALMS Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge
by Joanne Ivancic (Advanced Biofuels USA) Racing with E85, BMW Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan Wins Mid-Ohio MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge. Nissan Wins For First Time.
In its fourth season, the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge awards the “cleanest, fastest, moste efficient” American Le Mans Series’ Ptototype and GT category cars. Racing with E85, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan BMW team took the GT trophy with driving by Jorg Muller and Bill Auberlen at the ALMS Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge.
For the first time Nissan won a MICHELIN® GREEN X® Prototype Challenge with Conquest Endurance’s Morgan driven by Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier Hansson. Insiders wonder if work on the efficient racing DeltaWing project is rubbing off on their other racing endeavors.
A joint US Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, SAE International and IMSA steering group oversees MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge as part of their green racing promotion. Scoring takes place throughout the race, measuring well-to-wheel fuel consumption, race speed, energy use and vehicle weight.
Using cellulosic ethanol used to give competitors in this challenge a greenhouse gas emissions life cycle analysis advantage over those using sugar cane or corn ethanol. This year, that advantage is gone because, to the delight of ALMS officials, every drop of ethanol used by the race cars in the American Le Mans Series comes from wheat straw converted by Canada’s Iogen, whether E10 or E85.
According to Bob Larsen of the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge highlights elements of competitiveness of the main race, elements essential to performing well overall–efficiencies, timing and strategy. Most don’t see the role of these elements unless someone runs out of fuel. This race within a race provides a way to showcase excellence and innovation that not only has value to the sports car race, but to production vehicles, as well. Especially in a world of shrinking energy resources.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Ford and GM have expressed their intention to use racing as a testing ground for fuel efficiency and energy recovery improvements. This challenge helps them compare their progress against the competition.
In addition to working with SAE and IMSA on the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge, DOE and EPA have an interactive green racing exhibit that travels to big races around the country. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a racing simulator that enables race fans to see if they can drive both fast and efficiently.
Everyone from small children to prospective race drivers competed. Ailene Batoon, who runs the exhibit, notes that children have great questions about the simulation, asking about fuel blends and regenerative braking and that she sees it as a great educational tool for fans of all ages.