Engineers and racing car enthusiasts are gathering in Germany for a car race with a difference – one that focuses on the most fuel-efficient vehicle. In this event, the best cars could travel the entire length of Britain five times on a single gallon.
Royal Dutch Shell organises energy-economy competitions, called Shell Eco-marathons, on motor-racing circuits in both the Americas and Europe.
The official rules state that participants can design vehicles for either the ‘Prototype’ or the ‘UrbanConcept’ Group. The Prototype Group encourages technical creativity, whereas the UrbanConcept Group is intended to be closer to road-going vehicles in appearance and technology.
The vehicles may use one of the following fuel or energy types:
• Shell Unleaded 95 (EU) / Shell Plus 89 (US) Petrol/Gasoline
• Shell Diesel
• Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)
• Shell Gas To Liquid (100% GTL)
• Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (100% FAME)
• Ethanol E100 (100% Ethanol)
The Shell Eco-marathon is an educational platform that encourages innovation, reinforces conservation and fosters the development of leading technology for greater energy efficiency. This year’s European eco-marathon takes place between 7th– 9th May, 2009 at the EuroSpeedway in Lausitz, Germany.
More than 200 teams from 29 countries are battling for the €1,000 top prize. Each prototype vehicle is judged on how much fuel it uses to complete eight laps of the EuroSpeedway circuit – a distance of around 15.5 miles (25km). The cars have to do the full course in under 51 minutes and each team gets four attempts to use as little fuel as possible.
The Shell Eco-marathon began in 1939 at a Shell research laboratory in the USA as a friendly wager between scientists to see who could get the most miles per gallon from their vehicles. The Shell Eco-marathon in its current form began in 1985 in France, attracting thousands of young engineers and scientists from 20 European countries. The Shell Eco-marathon in America was first held at the California Speedway in 2007.
At the start of this year's race, José Manuel Barroso, president of the European commission said sustainable transport would be central to meeting the continent's climate goals. Records have already been broken. On May 8th, 2009, a new combustion engine record was set in the UrbanConcept group. With a Diesel engine running on Dimethylethylene , a team from the Technical University of Denmark achieved the equivalent of 589km on one litre of the fuel, almost doubling the distance of the previous record of 306km/l set in 2007.
Also, a new Combustion Engine Record was set in the Prototype group. Team No. 1 La Joliverie Nantes completed an astonishing 3,582km on a single litre of fuel. The previous record stood at 3,410km/l, set by the same team in 2004. Also, for the first time ever a solar-powered vehicle produced more energy than it consumed. The Lycée Louis Pasquet Arles, France (#501) completed 644km on 1 kwh… the equivalent of a 100w light bulb burning for 10 hours.