At this past weekend’s American Le Mans Series opener at Sebring, Dyson Racing stood out by fielding what was arguably the greenest car on the grid. The Dyson car, sporting No. 16, is the campaigned by the father and son team of Rob and Chris Dyson. Chris is a team Dyson co-driver, along with Jay Cochran and Guy Smith. Competing in the top-tier LMP1 class, the Dyson uses an environmentally friendly, 2.0-liter four-cylinder MZR-R Mazda powerplant (the only four-cylinder car in the race) pushing 500 horsepower, mounted in a Lola chassis. The Dyson team, the only privateer entry in LMP1, finished sixth at the 59th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring. Rob Dyson was happy with the result: “We punched above our weight all day,” he said.
The green juice that powers Dyson’s green machine is Isobutanol, a fuel which can be produced by several natural methods including the decay of organic materials such as cellulose. Currently, five different fuels are approved for the ALMS series: Low Sulfur Diesel, E-85 Ethanol, E-10 Ethanol, Isobutanol, and Electric Hybrid (although none are in 2011). No cars burn traditional gasoline: goodbye ‘gasoline alley’!
Dyson has found Isobutanol in the tank requires addressing many challenges, including: fuel mapping (air/fuel mix), fuel consumption (it takes about 10-15% more Isobutanol to produce the same horsepower as gasoline), and the replacement of various internal seals and components. Dyson has also been testing what effect the air intake restriction mandated per ACO regulations is having on the car’s overall performance in an effort to eliminate that variable from its analysis of the fuel’s impact. The lubrication of the Mazda machine is also environmentally friendly. The Dyson team has partnered with a product called G-Oil, which is made from American grown base oils and blended with the power of nanotechnology. G-Oil bottles are 100% recyclable, are made from recycled plastics, and even their labels are recycled paper printed with water based inks. And by the way… you can buy the same oil the Dyson car uses at Wal-Mart.
The ALMS is also home to the Michelin Green X Challenge, which recognizes the fastest, cleanest and most efficient entries on the grid. The Green X Challenge is a partnership between ALMS, Michelin, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. With entries like the Dyson team, and the ALMS’ overall commitment to environmental leadership, the series has become one of the unquestioned frontrunners in promoting ever greener machines on the grid. – By Robert Fischer and Steven Wild