TodayApril 16, 2022

What is the 2009 Shell eco-marathon Americas?

Scientists gone wild

April 16-18, 2009, Fontana, CA – The goal of the Shell Eco-marathon is to design and build the world’s most fuel-efficient vehicle that produces the fewest emissions.

The eco-marathon has evolved since the friendly wager between two Shell scientists back in 1939. On regular gasoline, they achieved a respectable 50 miles per gallon! Those two scientists would be surprised to know that in 2008 the mileage winner was 2,843 miles per gallon and was achieved by Mater Dei High School students.

Shell allows teams to enter two main categories:

* Futuristic prototypes which are streamlined pod-like vehicles where the primary design consideration is reducing drag and maximizing efficiency. Purdue’s solar vehicle looks more like something out of star wars, and Brazil has a design that is reminiscent of a ’30s Bugatti, but the others are pods.

* Urban Concept vehicles are new to the Eco-marathon Americas challenge for 2009. These vehicles will be built to more conventional 4-wheel roadworthy criteria. they look like little buggies from the Fred Flintstone days.

Either conventional fuels (such as diesel, gasoline, and LPG), or alternative fuels (such as solar, electric, hydrogen, biofuels, and GTL) can be used to power vehicles. The vehicles vary in fuel and in sophistication. All I can say is if Shell didn’t allow duct tape there would be fewer entrants.

They came bearing vehicles that were made out of fiberglass or carbon fiber. The pods were started by four-stroke engines like a Honda 50cc or 25cc or a fuel cell from Ballard Power Systems. A Nickel Metal hydride battery was purchased off the internet, and some were bought directly from Toyota. Some pieces looked like they were pulled directly from a dumpster.

Forty-four student teams (29 universities, 6 high schools) comprised of engineering students from schools in the United States, Canada, Brazil, India, and Mexico are participating in the 2009 Shell Eco-Marathon Americas. Schurr High school won the prize for the number (5) of vehicles they entered (two were gasoline, three were LPG).

Once the school has its vehicle together it has to be tested by one of the Shell scientists. All vehicles must comply with the technical and safety rules of the event. Once they pass they are sent to do a quick figure 8 driving test and then to the track. Each group gets 39 minutes to go around the track seven times. They are then sent straight back to the scientist to refill the tank and check the temperature of the fuel. From there the fuel is calculated to the equivalent of miles per gallon. Since the initial marathon was based on gasoline, the gasoline entrant wins the grand prize. The other fuels will place in their fuel category.

So what are the miles per gallon to beat this year?

2008 winners:

Gasoline: 2,843 miles per gallon (mpg)
solar: 2,861.8 mpg
fuel cell/hydrogen: 1,668.3 mpg
diesel: 304.5 mpg
LPG: 163.5 mpg

2009 Shell Eco-marathon Americas team roster
School Name Team Name Country
Barstow High School AZ-TECHS USA
Cal Poly CalPloy Supermileage USA
California State University Chico Suffrage USA
California State University Los Angeles CSULA Supermileage USA
Cedarville University GL4 USA
Cedarville University Jackets Racing USA
Centennial High School Huskies USA
Centro de Investigaciones de Diseño Industrial (CIDI) / Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM) Nemesis Mexico
Chitkara Institute of Engineering & Technology / Punjab Technical University Team Stealth India
College of the Redwoods Diesel Corsair USA
Colorado School of Mines Colorado School of Mines USA
Dalhousie University Dalhousie Supermileage Canada
Design School/ State University of Minas Gerais Team Sabia Brazil
East Los Angeles College Huskies USA
George M. Schurr High School Spartans USA
George M. Schurr High School Spartans USA
George M. Schurr High School Spartans USA
Grand Rapids Tech G-Rock USA
Laval University Alerion Supermileage Canada
Los Altos High School Hacienda La Puente Unified School District USA
Louisiana State University LSU Eco-marathon Team USA
Louisiana Tech University Tech EcoCar USA
Loyola Marymount University Gen2 USA
Loyola Marymount University Team Ramrod USA
Mater Dei High School Mater Dei Supermileage USA
Mishawaka High School MHS Engineering USA
Monrovia High School Team Green USA
Northern Arizona University Team SAE at NAU USA
R. L. Turner High School Turner USA
Rochester Institute of Technology RIT Greenvehicle Team USA
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Rose-Hulman Efficient Vehicles USA
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Rose-Hulman Efficient Vehicles USA
Schurr High School Spartans USA
Schurr High School Skyhawks USA
UC Berkeley Cal SMV USA
UCLA UCLA Supermileage USA
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico Escuderia Puma Mexico
University of British  Columbia UBC Supermileage Team Canada
University of California Santa Barbara UCSB Super Mileage USA
The University of Colorado at Boulder CU-L.A.T.E.R USA
University of Houston – College of Technology Team SAECO USA
University of Texas at El Paso Miners USA
Wright State University Raider Engineering USA
Fuel Cells  –    Hydrogen
Cicero North-Syracuse High School Performance Engineering Team USA
Los Altos High School Hacienda La Puente Unified School District USA
North Carolina A&T State University Aggie USA
Penn State Blood, Sweat & Gears USA
University of Houston Team Fuel Cell USA
University of Victoria H2Drive Canada
Lamar University Rebel Alliance USA
Centennial High School Huskies USA
Ohio State University OSU Solar USA
Purdue University Purdue Solar Racing Team USA
Urban Concept
Louisiana Tech University Tech EcoCar USA
Mater Dei High School Mater Dei Super Mileage USA
The University of Arizona Arizona Solar Racing Team USA
Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.