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Students to Push Fuel Efficiency Limits at Shell Eco-marathon
April 22, 2014
Ready To Roll: Efficient Vehicles Team leader Ethan Skinner, a senior mechanical engineering students, works on the front wheel drive components in preparation for this weekend’s Shell Eco-marathon event in Houston. (Photo by Shawn Spence)
Rose-Hulman students have prepared gasoline- and ethanol-powered supermileage cars to achieve 1,500 miles per gallon—or more—at America’s premiere fuel efficiency competition, the Shell Eco-marathon, this weekend in Houston.
The Rose-Hulman Efficient Vehicles Team is an advanced transportation educational project fueling students’ passion for engineering, innovation, and racing. It also provides real-world experiences and prepares students for careers in the energy and technology industries.
The Shell Eco-marathon takes place at Houston’s Discovery Green Park this Friday through Sunday, April 25-27
Rose-Hulman has been one of the Shell Eco-marathon’s star-studded teams, achieving 1,800 mpg on about 4½ teaspoons of gasoline. The team has also competed in the Shell Eco-marathon United Kingdom, where under different rules and conditions it achieved 1,972 mpg, and won the Society of Automotive Engineers' Supermileage competition, a similar test for North American collegiate efficient vehicles.
An ethanol fuel-powered vehicle has been added to Rose-Hulman’s lineup as more than 100 college and high school teams from Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, and across the United States test cars to see which can travel the farthest distance by using the least amount of energy.
“The technologies these students are developing, testing, and honing could play a key role in future vehicle design,” says Wolfgang Warnecke, Shell’s chief mobility scientist. “Shell Eco-marathon shows how working with others—in this case students and a broad range of partners—helps to spark debate and drive innovation forward.”
Rose-Hulman’s vehicles have seen changes in car design, from the introduction of lightweight carbon fiber materials, and have used computer software to model and analyze vehicle performance. These developments have resulted in fuel efficiency improvements over the years, and the students are constantly thinking of new ways to excel and remain ahead of the competition.
“This year’s team goals have been to achieve 1,500 mpg with both cars through seamless body fabrication and improved engine performance,” says team leader Ethan Skinner, a senior mechanical engineering student. “We have learned valuable lessons about the cars and our own skills throughout the development process. We’re anxious to see how each car will do.”