Eleven teams from top universities across Canada are gearing up to race their super fuel efficient vehicles at the Shell Eco-marathon in Houston, April 25-27. These super-mileage cars can get over 10 times the fuel efficiency as today’s best passenger vehicle. Winners are ones that drive the furthest on the least amount of energy.
The average Shell Eco-Marathon vehicle, plus its driver, emits less carbon dioxide than a world class athlete running at 25 kilometres an hour. Vehicles can be powered by gas, diesel, bio fuels, battery electric, solar or hydrogen fuel cell. Vehicles can be prototype concept cars that are streamlined to break the boundaries of fuel efficiency or urban concept cars that approximate cars on the road today.
Two teams from the University of British Columbia and teams from University of Alberta, University of Toronto, Queen’s University, University of Waterloo, L’École de technologie Supérieure, Université de Moncton, Université de Sherbrooke, Dalhousie University and last year’s winner Université Laval will go head to head with 130 teams from the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Guatemala.
“Shell Eco-marathon provides a unique opportunity for students to create potential prototype cars for tomorrow,” says Lorraine Mitchelmore, Shell Canada President and Country Chair. “At Shell we believe that we can unlock economic opportunity through well designed and highly efficient operations and these students are an inspiration to us all.”
The Shell Eco-marathon has come a long way since its origins as a bet between Shell scientists 70 years ago. At the time, the winner achieved a little over 21 kilometers on one litre of fuel. Last year Université Laval got equivalent to 1,500 kilometres on one litre of fuel; that’s comparable to driving from Vancouver to Saskatoon, or one third of the way across Canada.
“It’s an incredible feeling to take something that started out as a sketch on a piece of paper, and make it into something tangible,” says Ryan Gibson, Captain of the University of British Columbia Supermileage team. “Seeing our vehicle on the track makes all the long hours worth it.”
"We want to showcase recent advancements in sustainability with our hydrogen fuel cell vehicle," explains Balazs Gyenes, captain of University of Alberta’s Shell Eco-marathon team. "Our car is made with cellulose, flax, hemp, and bio-resins in a biofibre composite that was developed here in Alberta."
University of Toronto vehicle entered in the 2014 Shell Eco-marathon.
“An immense amount of out of the classroom learning has been put toward building the most efficient vehicle,” says Jonathan Hamway, University of Toronto Shell Eco-marathon team captain. “In addition to a whole new vehicle design, we are the only team from the Americas building an engine from scratch, from the nuts and bolts up.”
With Université Laval and the University of British Columbia coming in first and second in their respective categories last year, Canadian teams have high hopes in placing among the top rankings this year.