Purdue students build street-legal 2, 200 mpg solar powered car

Apr 25, 2011 by Jim Schenke
Ted Pesyna, at left, president of Purdue Solar Racing, and Brian Kelley, a junior in computer engineering and member of the solar-car team, show their new vehicle, Celeritas. The car achieved the equivalent of nearly 2,200 mpg while winning the urban division of the Shell Eco-marathon Americas, an international contest for college and high school students to design and build the most fuel-efficient vehicles. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Purdue Solar Racing team's solar-powered urban commuter car achieved the equivalent of almost 2,200 miles per gallon in the 2011 Shell EcoMarathon international competition this week in Houston.

The Purdue Solar Racing team's solar-powered urban commuter car achieved the equivalent of almost 2,200 in the 2011 Shell EcoMarathon international competition this week in Houston.

2,564 miles per gallon achieved at Shell Eco-marathon: phys.org/news/2011-04-m… ll-eco-marathon.html

The Celeritas prototype can handle a full-sized driver seated upright in a car equipped with headlights, taillights, a trunk, energy regenerative braking, pothole-handling suspension and rearview backup cameras. The car, equipped with five onboard computer systems, generated so much electricity it was in jeopardy of overloading its onboard batteries. Subsequent versions of the car may include an air-conditioning unit to make it even more comfortable and to consume excess electricity. The team is applying for a VIN number and license plate to make it a street-legal experimental vehicle.

Team president Ted Pesyna, a senior from Indianapolis, said the students couldn't be more pleased with their results in what was their first year competing in the urban division.

"We have clearly demonstrated the feasibility of an electric that requires no burning of fossil fuels," Pesyna said. "Thousands of hours went into creating this machine but it is so worthwhile when the results show that we will eventually be able to move beyond oil for our transportation needs."

The team is drawn from an array of undergraduate programs including mechanical, electrical and computer engineering and aviation technology. It spent one year designing the $90,000 prototype and one year building it. The effort is funded largely through contributions from corporations and several Purdue schools and colleges.

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More information: www.shell.com/ecomarathon

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User comments : 14

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CapitalismPrevails
1 / 5 (3) Apr 25, 2011
How many mpg would it get in Seattle? :)
CapitalismPrevails
1 / 5 (3) Apr 25, 2011
Will it hydroplane?
Silver_the_Fox
not rated yet Apr 25, 2011
I don't know about you all, but I could definately use that myself. No need to buy gas for life! Three gallons and I'm good for at least a couple of months.
Shelgeyr
1 / 5 (2) Apr 25, 2011
A 2,200 mpg solar powered car! It is absolutely amazing how far you can go on a gallon of sunshine!
HoboWhisperer
1 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2011
VIN Number. Like Automatic ATM Machine Teller?
J-n
not rated yet Apr 25, 2011
or your internet ISP.
Silver_the_Fox
not rated yet Apr 25, 2011
Pretty much, but I'd love it if someone did a little more looking into the thing, no use getting hyped up over nothing you know...
J-n
5 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2011
there are a few things that strike me from this article.

generated so much electricity it was in jeopardy of overloading its onboard batteries


Thousands of hours went into creating this machine


It spent one year designing the $90,000 prototype and one year building it


Car companies say they've been working on things like this for a long long time.. yet.. it took a group of students 2 years, and 90k to create this car that produces more energy than it's batteries can handle.

... and it was their FIRST YEAR doing the competition...

Sounds like the car companies should fire their ENTIRE R&D staffs and just pay colleges to do their work for them.

... That is if they really want to produce something like this to begin with.
jselin
5 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2011
@J-n:
DOT laws require that a road going consumer car meet a number of standards and requirements that this vehicle most likely does not. I'm going to guess this thing wouldn't get a 5 star collision rating...

Once you starting working towards meeting these and other practical requirements you start adding weight and complexity that takes a toll on the mileage. Another important question is whether the power to weight ratio is high enough to merge onto the highway safely or climb the maximum grade incline without being dangerously slower than other vehicles on the road.
Jeddy_Mctedder
1 / 5 (3) Apr 25, 2011
put a hub motor on this thing and make it a solar-electric/battery-hybrid
PPihkala
not rated yet Apr 26, 2011
put a hub motor on this thing and make it a solar-electric/battery-hybrid

It already has a motor, so one would just need to add engine and generator. But the real question is would there be demand for something like this?
J-n
not rated yet Apr 26, 2011
@iselin

I did think about those items, but remember the car companies say they've been working on efficiency for their vehicles since the 70s.

I totally understand that safety, acceleration, etc all add weight to the vehicle. I really wonder though if those concerns really add up to a 2150 MPG difference?
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Apr 30, 2011
"Sounds like the car companies should fire their ENTIRE R&D staffs and just pay colleges to do their work for them." - JN

It is a fact that automotive companies spend vastly more engineering effort into getting their engines to "sound right" than to work efficiently.

ODesign
not rated yet May 01, 2011
"the Shell Eco-marathon Americas"

Hmm. I think we should highlight that more so other oil companies can follow the lead. Good deeds that go unnoticed and unrewarded are rarely repeated. Whatever qualifications or exceptions this seems to be a successful implementation of a promise to the public from a large corporation to search for a sustainable future.

P.s. I ride a bicycle and take electric mass transit exclusively and have no money in stocks or any other financial incentive to support Shell. It just seems they deserve some credit in the interests of fairness and promoting good policy.