G-OIL Green Earth Technologies LMPC race car

G-OIL Green Earth Technologies LMPC race car

G-OIL Green Earth Technologies LMPC race car

G-OIL Green Earth Technologies LMPC race car

Biodegradable oil? For race cars? Huh? As oddball as it may sound, there's now "green" oil, and it's being promoted as not only better for the earth, but better for racing, too.

And the team running it in the American Le Mans Series Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) class just took its first win at this weekend's Long Beach Grand Prix.

Innovation from racing

Racing has a long history of innovating new products for the consumer sector, including technologies that improve fuel efficiency such as direct injection, turbocharging, alternative fuels, and more.

The American Le Mans Series is also heavily invested in promoting environmentally sound technologies, as it believes the future of racing involves not just going fast, but going green.

Enter the Green Dragon

Green Earth Technologies' G-OIL G1 Racing Oil is rated as "Ultimate Biodegradable" by ASTM Standards. That's the highest possible biodegradability rating for engine oil.

The oil itself is "bio-based" but understandably proprietary at this point. Green Earth says the oil completely breaks down (biodegrades) in a matter of weeks once re-introduced to the environment, though it also recommends disposing of used oil through proper channels.

Based on the same formula as its standard biodegradable G-OIL, the G1 Racing Oil adds what the company calls "nano geodesic bearings." These are nano-scale particles that it theorizes act as tiny bearings, reducing friction to raise horsepower, and also fuel efficiency--a further improvement for the racing team, as well as the environment.

An Earth Week win

"It is quite appropriate that our win at Long Beach took place during Earth Week, a time to honor the environment and the planet, doing our part to save the earth without having to sacrifice a thing," said Jeffrey Loch, Green Earth Technologies's founder.

The victory came against tough competition from Level 5 and Genoa Racing, each of which led at some point in the race, proving that the biodegradable oil is up to the task of facing down conventional oils in heads-up competition.

Biodegradable--but is it really green?

Without more information on the source of the oil used to create G-OIL--information Green Earth jealously protects--it's hard to know if the biodegradability is more than a marketing ploy in terms of overall environmental impact.

Sure, it would make sense if oil was being dumped wholesale on open ground, but used engine oil is currently collected and recycled anyway. How introducing biodegradable oil to that cycle improves environmental impact isn't clear.

Further, without knowing the source material used for the G-OIL, it's impossible to estimate the benefit (if any) to CO2 emissions or reduced oil drilling requirements.

Carbon impact unclear

If it's from a renewable source, net CO2 emissions from the oil that's inevitably burned as part of the combustion process could be near zero. But if it's based on fossil oil, it may be potentially worse, because the biodegradable treatment process is likely to require added energy input.

On the other hand, while modern cars aren't the oil-seeping sieves they once were, they still do tend to leak some oil now and then. Any reduction in the volume of oil entering the ecosystem this way could have a measurable impact in keeping oil out of rivers, lakes, and soil.

In the end, G-OIL may not have a huge impact on cleaning up the environment. But putting the green message in front of racing fans--plus the added benefit of real performance--can only help improve their perceptions of earth-friendly and efficient technologies.

And that's something we can all appreciate.