More than 500 students tested the boundaries of fuel efficiency this past weekend at the 2009 Shell Eco-marathon Americas in Houston.
Students designed, build and then raced their vehicles around a track, in an attempt to travel the farthest on the least amount of fuel.
The team from Laval University achieved 2,757.1 miles per gallon and took home the grand prize in the Prototype category. In the UrbanConcept category, the team from Mater Dei High School won the grand prize with 433.3 miles per gallon.
“The Shell Eco-marathon is a platform for students to let their imaginations run wild,” said Mark Singer, global project manager for the Shell Eco-marathon. “By encouraging these students to build vehicles with greater energy efficiency, we hope this will help inspire others, and together we can find solutions that will help meet the global energy challenge.”
Teams that entered the Prototype category created futuristic, streamlined vehicles focused on maximizing fuel efficiency using innovative design elements, such as drag reduction. Students competing in the UrbanConcept category constructed more “roadworthy” fuel-efficient vehicles, aimed at meeting the real-life needs of drivers. In both categories, teams could use any conventionally adapted energy source, such as diesel, gasoline or liquid petroleum gas (LPG), as well as alternative fuels, including hydrogen, biomass and solar.
More than 44 teams from six high schools and 29 universities from North and South America, including Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. participated in the competition, as well as a guest team from India, which joined in the prototype division.
Prototype entries included 28 vehicles powered by combustion engines, five by fuel cell/hydrogen technology, three by LPG, three by solar power and two using diesel fuel. UrbanConcept entries included two vehicles powered by combustion engines and one that used solar power.