Student eco-car headed to world championships
U of A team wins division at Shell Eco-marathon Americas
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The University of Alberta’s Eco-Car team is headed to London after winning its division at the Shell Eco-marathon Americas competition in Detroit last week.
The 40-member team and their sleek carbon fibre car, dubbed “Alice,” took first place in the UrbanConcept category for hydrogen-fuelled vehicles last weekend.
The Eco-marathon puts a twist on the traditional race: As long as cars complete a 9.65 kilometre track in less than 24 minutes, speed doesn’t matter.
Efficiency separates the winners from the losers and Alice, which runs on a hydrogen fuel cell completed the course consuming fuel at a rate of 65 kilometres per cubic metre of hydrogen.
After arriving in Detroit, 19 members of the team spent a couple days preparing the car for rigorous pre-race technical inspections. They also took the car out for a spin on the track—the first time it had been driven outside of the engineering building’s parkade.
Their winning run was Sunday, and team captain Nik Viktorov, a third year chemical engineering student, said it was smooth.
“Our car was actually really good to us, during the entire race. We had a pretty reliable car out there,” he said, adding that one of their competitors didn’t pass the pre-race testing, and the other was only able to do one run.
Viktorov said the hydrogen categories tend to be small because of the difficulty of working with the volatile fuel.
The UrbanConcept category is also a challenge because vehicles must be a reasonable approximation of a car you’d see on the road, Viktorov said, but about a quarter of the size.
“[An UrbanConcept car] has everything from signal lights to windshield wipers — basically the things you would see in a regular car — and it should seat one person comfortably,” he said.
Now the team has been invited to participate in the Shell Eco-marathon Europe as well as the Driver’s World Championship happening July 7 to 10, which will see them facing off against from teams from Asia, Europe and the Americas.
More than 1,000 university and high school students from seven countries participated in last weekend’s competition.