The cars ran on cellulosic ethanol, a biofuel made from straw grown in Ontario.
'Once farmers have harvested the grain for food - making bread, for example - we use the leftover straw for ethanol,' said Jeff Passmore, executive vice-president of Iogen Corporation, the Canadian company that produces the fuel, in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen. 'We turn that agricultural residue into a high-octane fuel that contains 35 per cent oxygen.'
Iogen Corp., which has been running a demonstration plant producing cellulosic ethanol in eastern Ontario since 2004, partnered with Ferrari's fuel sponsor, Royal Dutch-Shell, to develop a fuel that would meet Formula One's new fuel standards.
'The Iogen ethanol is not competing with the food chain, and has a clear advantage compared to other components for gasoline,' said Rainer Winzenried, spokesman for Royal Dutch Shell in The Hague, in the same interview with the Ottawa Citizen.
This past weekend's race marked the first time cellulosic ethanol has been used in Grand Prix competition but it won't be the last, because Iogen Corp. will be supplying Ferrari with fuel for the rest of the season.
'This demonstrates once again that a Canadian company is a world leader in this field,' said Passmore, in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen. 'The fuel is performing extremely well in a very demanding high-performance application.'
Iogen Corp. asserts their fuel can reduce green house gas emissions by 90 per cent and is one of the most cost effective methods of reducing emissions created by transportation.
Passmore said no other manufacturer in the world is producing cellulosic ethanol on the scale that his company is and since Shell owns 50 per cent of Iogen's energy division, it could be a while before any one else can.
With this partnership in mind, Iogen has announced plans to open a second plant in Saskatchewan.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, 600 farmers have signed up to supply the proposed plant with the straw it will need.
In the same article, Passmore said the new plant will capture the heat generated from burning the straw onsite and use it to generate roughly 80 to 90 per cent of the electricity used in the facility.
There is still no scheduled date for the release of the new formula cellulosic ethanol to the public.