News / Ottawa

University of Ottawa team hoping to go the farthest on the least fuel

Engineering students have designed a car to travel thousands of kilometres on a litre of gas.

Nicholas Fekete and Marc-Andre Caron stand on the left, beside driver Isabella Jiminez with Marcel Girard and Jason Mongenais, who make up the team going to Detroit.

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Nicholas Fekete and Marc-Andre Caron stand on the left, beside driver Isabella Jiminez with Marcel Girard and Jason Mongenais, who make up the team going to Detroit.

A group of University of Ottawa students are hoping to boldly go further than anyone has ever gone before on a single litre of gas.

The team of engineering students is headed to Detroit next month for the Shell Eco-marathon, in which hundreds of teams will compete to achieve mind-blowing feats of fuel efficiency.

Patrick Dumond, the Ottawa team’s faculty advisor, said the competition is a great opportunity for the students to take ideas from classroom and apply them where the rubber hits the road.

“In school they learn a lot of theory, the equations that go into engineering. They don’t deal with a lot of practical applications,” he said.

Dumond competed in the event in 2010, when he was a student. He said that, while his team didn’t even make it onto the track, it was a tremendous learning experience.  

He said the student-designed cars push the limit of what’s possible: some can travel 2,000 or even 3,000 miles on a single litre.

“One of the previous versions of this car went the equivalent of Ottawa to Winnipeg,” he said.

The uOttawa vehicle has a carbon-fibre frame with specially made wheels and engine. The whole vehicle weighs less than 50 kilograms and cost about $40,000 to build.

Nicholas Fekete worked on the windshield for this year’s car. He said the project is about finding every last piece of weight, every inch of refinement.

“Every weight, every gram, if we don’t need something, we cut it off. If something is needed can we make it out of aluminum instead of steel,” he said.

He said the challenge has been a great experience.

“It’s amazing. Lately, I am saying that I go to school to work on this.”

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