Shell Eco-Marathon offers thousands of MPG

Engineering on the cutting edge of energy efficiency means going well beyond hundreds of miles per gallon to thousands of miles per gallon. Look at these efficiencies. How are advanced automation technologies helping?


Fortis Saxonia's streamlined Shell Eco-marathon vehicle in the Control Engineering AIMing for Automated Vehicles Blog. Courtesy: Fortis SaxoniaThe vehicles in the 27th Shell Eco-marathon are getting fuel efficiencies so far beyond the legendary 300 mpg carburetor, challenging high school and college student teams from around the world to design, build and test energy efficient vehicles.  In Americas, Europe and Asia winners are the teams that go the farthest distance using the least amount of energy.  Would automating these vehicles to optimize performance push the figures “astronomical” fuel efficiencies even higher?  Several teams have hinted that they “are perusing anything that gives them an edge.”

     I think I should build one, just for practice... and maybe try to get around the neighborhood in one using just a thimble full of gasoline.  

     2011 Shell Eco-marathon > EUROPE > Winning scores for Fuel Economy

Prototype > Electrical mobility

           Hydrogen    : 367 miles/kWh

           Plug in     : 524 miles/kWh  

           Solar       : 688 miles/kWh   

Prototype > Internal combustion

           Diesel      :  4,196 mpg

           Ethanol     :  6,926 mpg

           FAME        :  no entry

           Gas to Liquid (GTL): 326 mpg

           Gasoline    :  8,677 mpg

UrbanConcept > Electrical mobility

           Hydrogen    :   64 miles/kWh

           Plug in     :  145 miles/kWh 

           Solar       :  114 miles/kWh   

UrbanConcept > Internal combustion

           Diesel     :    557 mpg

           Ethanol    :  1,199 mpg

           FAME       :   no entry

           Gas to Liquid (GTL): no entry

           Gasoline   :    934 mpg


Prototype > Internal Combustion Engine

     First Prize: 2,564.8 mpg, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada won  $5,000.  

     Second Prize: 1,798.7 mpg, Mater Dei High School, Evansville, IN won  $2,500. 

> Gasoline

     2,564.8 mpg, Université Laval won $1,000. 

> Diesel

     574.8 mpg, Wawasee High School in Syracuse, IN won $1,000. 

> Alternative Gasoline

     First Prize: 871 mpg, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign,IL won  $1,000.

     Second Prize: 758.7 mpg, Alden Conger High School, Alden, MN won $1,000.

> Alternative Diesel 

     179.1 mpg, St. Paul’s School, Covington, LA won $1,000. 

Prototype Category > Electrical Mobility

> Fuel Cell/Hydrogen

     First Prize: 44.1 mi/kWh, Cicero North Syracuse High School team from Cicero, NY, won $1,500.

     Second Prize: 29.3 mi/kWh,  Lamar University, Beaumont, TX, won a $1,000.

> Plug in

     First Prize: 386.2 mi/kWh, Mater Dei High School won a $1,500.

     Second Prize:  237.7 mi/kWh, Grand Rapids High School, Grand Rapids, MI, won a $1,000.

> Solar Power

     89.7 mi/kWh, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, won $1,500.

UrbanConcept Category > Internal Combustion Engine

     First Prize: 646.7 mpg, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA, won $5,000. 

     Second Prize: 586.6 mpg, Mater Dei High School won $2,500.

> Gasoline

     646.7 mpg, Louisiana Tech University won $1,000.  

> Diesel

     186.5 mpg, Granite Falls High School in Granite Falls, WA, won $1,000.

> Fuel Cell/Hydrogen

     13.8 mi/kWh, University of Missouri team from Columbia, MO, won $1,500.

> Solar Power Energy

     64.5 mi/kWh, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, won $1,500.

     Special Awards for Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2011

     People’s Choice Award - University of Houston’s Solar JECT got the most votes by the public!

     2011 Eco-Design Award Sponsored by Autodesk - was presented to Durand High School for their reuse of so many vehicle parts. Their special design contributed to the fuel efficiency of their vehicle, and incorporated repurposed materials in production process.

      Safety Award - This award went to three teams: Louisiana Tech University; Granite Falls High School; and Durand High School.  Safety was top priority in their vehicle design, construction, and onsite behavior at Shell Eco-marathon Americas.

     Technical Innovation Award Sponsored by Southwest Research Institute - California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo,  for their onboard electronics with custom data acquisition and monitoring system.

     Design Award - Louisiana Tech University for their vehicle entry “Roadster,” was based on a 1930s hotrod.

     Communications Award - Purdue University made outstanding communications efforts.

     Best Team Spirit - University of Missouri, long term planning for the present and future structure of their team.

     Perseverance in the Face of Adversity - Polytechnic Institute of New York. Their vehicle that was damaged in transit to Shell Eco-marathon Americas and after much work the team was able make it out onto the track.

     This fuel-efficiency contest looks like it is a lot of fun to be in or to mentor.  Let me know what you think in the comments section below.  Are you already on a team and can share some of the details with us?  Do you have any ideas that could be used on the next car? If you cannot see comments area below, click on this blog link for the Shell Eco-Marathon and scroll down to leave your comments. Thanks.

     GO ROBOTS !

     Paul F. Grayson - Chief Engineer

     American Industrial Magic

     390 4-Mile Rd. S.

     Traverse City, MI 49696

     (231) 883-4463

Online extra image

At the link above, Polytechnic Institute of NYU student Ankur Vishwakarma is on the track on the final day of Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2011 on Sunday, April 17, in downtown Houston. (This looks like something someone would want to buy.) Courtesy Shell Eco-Marathon, via Flickr.

     Read other AIMing for Automated Vehicles blog entries at:

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