A race that challenges competitors to design and build not the fastest car – but the most fuel efficient, has kicked off in Germany
European Shell Eco-marathon is a competition designed to inspire young people to come up with creative and innovative sustainable solutions to the world’s energy challenge.
Over 200 teams from 27 countries are taking part in the race, including UK teams from Aston University and Langley Park School for Boys.
Teams can enter two categories: the prototype category, where the design considerations are to reduce drag and maximise engine efficiency and cars often look futuristic; or the urbanconcept category, where cars look more like the passenger vehicles.
Langley Park School for Boys will race 15.8 miles around a prototype track, while Aston University will race 11.8 miles around the urbanconcept track to allow experts to compare each vehicle’s fuel consumption and calculate the distance travelled on the equivalent of a single litre of fuel.
Aston University have taken inspiration from thinking about the urban mega cities of the future and have incorporated a space saving ‘central pivot point’ to their vehicle design, giving the car the ability to fold in half to reduce its parking footprint. They have also taken into consideration the lightweight nature and sustainability of the materials they’re using and have chosen fast growing bamboo to build the structural frame and easily recyclable lightweight marine plywood.
Langley Park School have used only recycled materials for their vehicle, taken from old bicycles, recycled internal walls from aircraft and engines from previously used cars which entered the race.
Teams can choose from a range of traditional and alternative fuel types to power their cars. Vehicles with internal combustion engines can use petrol, diesel, Gas to Liquid, biodiesel or ethanol. Those running on electrical engines can use hydrogen, solar or – for the first time – ‘plug in’ battery technologies. As long as teams adhere to safety rules, vehicle design is limited only by students’ imagination.
Shell climate change advisor David Hone said: “At a time when reducing CO2 emissions is high on the environmental agenda, the Shell Eco-marathon is a great chance for young people to explore and then demonstrate that such a goal really is possible. In recent years the competing teams have come up with novel designs, especially given the challenges of modest budgets and lack of professional experience. Most excitingly, these designs help influence and inspire the kinds of cars we will drive in the future.”
The race, now in its 27th year, started yesterday and runs until tomorrow in Lausitz. Shell Eco-marathon is an international competition with events also in America and Malaysia.