Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Students design extremely efficient vehicles

Energy efficiency is garnering widespread publicity lately while US regulators wrestle with energy and environmental issues. Separately, I couldn’t help but hope that energy czars and policymakers of the future emerge from among 400 students who competed in last month’s Shell Eco-marathon Americas.

Extreme energy efficiency was literally tested when student teams competed to design and build vehicles running the farthest distance using the least amount of energy. The eco-marathon kicked off Mar. 27 with Shell Oil Co. President Marvin Odum waving the green start flag as 48 vehicles tested on the course in downtown Houston.

A team from Laval University in Quebec won the grand prize for a second consecutive year. The fuel efficiency of Laval University team’s entry in the Prototype category was 2,487.5 mpg.

For the Prototype category, teams entered futuristic, streamlined prototypes–experimental vehicles focused on maximizing fuel efficiency through innovative design. Prototype entries included 28 vehicles powered by combustion engines, five by fuel cell-hydrogen technology, two by solar power, and two by diesel fuel.

I am impressed by the design skills of these high school and college students. Maybe someday, I will drive a car designed by one of them. Hopefully, some of them will take their efficiency experience and innovative skills into legislative chambers to help draft future energy policy.

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