Going the farthest distance might sound like a foot race. But this past weekend, it meant stretching the boundaries of fuel efficiency as student teams competed in the fifth annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas, a challenge for students to design, build and test fuel-efficient vehicles that travel the farthest distance using the least amount of energy. High school and university students from Canada and the United States competed in the two-day street course challenge in downtown Houston.
For the third year in a row and beating last year's mileage by 77 mpg, the student team from Université Laval in Quebec, Canada took home the Internal Combustion First Prize with an astonishing best run of 2,564.8 miles per gallon in the Prototype class. And in the UrbanConcept class, the team from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La. took First Prize by achieving a best run of 646.7 mpg. For the complete list of all Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2011 winners for both on-track and off-track awards, please visit www.shell.com/ecomarathon.
"Every year, the competition at Shell Eco-marathon Americas gets a little tougher," said Anthony Bernier of Universite Laval. "With more teams participating this year, there are a lot of really smart and innovative fuel-efficient ideas to be seen on and off the track. We put a lot of time and hard work into our vehicle this year and are very proud of how we did. We are excited to be Shell Eco-marathon Americas champions for the third year in a row and to have beat our mileage achieved last year!"
Bruce Culpepper, Shell Oil Company Executive Vice President Americas Operations, kicked off the challenge on Saturday, April 16, by waving the green start flag and asking the teams to "Start your fuel-efficient engines!" The competition was steep with a record number of 62 student teams and their 68 vehicles competing.
Shell Eco-marathon continues to grow and challenge students to push the boundaries with their innovative fuel efficiency solutions. In that spirit, an e-mobility category was added to the 2011 competitions. This category includes both Prototype and UrbanConcept vehicles powered by electric motors using hydrogen, solar or, for the first time, 'Plug-in' battery energy sources. Other fuels in the internal combustion powered vehicles include gasoline, diesel, GTL, biodiesel or ethanol.
Shell Eco-marathon is an inspiring part of Shell's "Smarter Mobility" program, which is aimed at meeting the needs of today's drivers as society faces an increasing demand on energy for transport. While alternative energies such as hydrogen and advanced biofuels have real potential, there will not be enough of these energy sources to make a measureable difference for another decade or more. With an eye on the future of transportation, the students and their innovative designs at Shell Eco-marathon are competitively focused on smarter use.
The 62 teams who participated in Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2011 entered 56 Prototype entries and 12 UrbanConcept entries.
Explore further: Do biofuel policies seek to cut emissions by cutting food?