TodaySeptember 21, 2021

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 NameTeam NameCountry
Barstow High SchoolAZ-TECHSUSA
Cal PolyCalPloy SupermileageUSA
California State University ChicoSuffrageUSA
California State University Los AngelesCSULA SupermileageUSA
Cedarville UniversityGL4USA
Cedarville UniversityJackets RacingUSA
Centennial High SchoolHuskiesUSA
Centro de Investigaciones de Diseño Industrial (CIDI) / Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM)NemesisMexico
Chitkara Institute of Engineering & Technology / Punjab Technical UniversityTeam StealthIndia
College of the RedwoodsDiesel CorsairUSA
Colorado School of MinesColorado School of MinesUSA
Dalhousie UniversityDalhousie SupermileageCanada
Design School/ State University of Minas GeraisTeam SabiaBrazil
East Los Angeles CollegeHuskiesUSA
George M. Schurr High SchoolSpartansUSA
George M. Schurr High SchoolSpartansUSA
George M. Schurr High SchoolSpartansUSA
Grand Rapids TechG-RockUSA
Laval UniversityAlerion SupermileageCanada
Los Altos High SchoolHacienda La Puente Unified School DistrictUSA
Louisiana State UniversityLSU Eco-marathon TeamUSA
Louisiana Tech UniversityTech EcoCarUSA
Loyola Marymount UniversityGen2USA
Loyola Marymount UniversityTeam RamrodUSA
Mater Dei High SchoolMater Dei SupermileageUSA
Mishawaka High SchoolMHS EngineeringUSA
Monrovia High SchoolTeam GreenUSA
Northern Arizona UniversityTeam SAE at NAUUSA
R. L. Turner High SchoolTurnerUSA
Rochester Institute of TechnologyRIT Greenvehicle TeamUSA
Rose-Hulman Institute of TechnologyRose-Hulman Efficient VehiclesUSA
Rose-Hulman Institute of TechnologyRose-Hulman Efficient VehiclesUSA
Schurr High SchoolSpartansUSA
Schurr High SchoolSkyhawksUSA
UC BerkeleyCal SMVUSA
UCLAUCLA SupermileageUSA
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de MexicoEscuderia PumaMexico
University of British  ColumbiaUBC Supermileage TeamCanada
University of California Santa BarbaraUCSB Super MileageUSA
The University of Colorado at BoulderCU-L.A.T.E.RUSA
University of Houston – College of TechnologyTeam SAECOUSA
University of Texas at El PasoMinersUSA
Wright State UniversityRaider EngineeringUSA
Fuel Cells  –    Hydrogen
Cicero North-Syracuse High SchoolPerformance Engineering TeamUSA
Los Altos High SchoolHacienda La Puente Unified School DistrictUSA
North Carolina A&T State UniversityAggieUSA
Penn StateBlood, Sweat & GearsUSA
University of HoustonTeam Fuel CellUSA
University of VictoriaH2DriveCanada
Lamar UniversityRebel AllianceUSA
Centennial High SchoolHuskiesUSA
Ohio State UniversityOSU SolarUSA
Purdue UniversityPurdue Solar Racing TeamUSA
Urban Concept
Louisiana Tech UniversityTech EcoCarUSA
Mater Dei High SchoolMater Dei Super MileageUSA
The University of ArizonaArizona Solar Racing TeamUSA
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.