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HOUSTON -- More than 500 students making up 44 teams from North and South America competed over the weekend in the 2009 Shell Eco-marathon Americas, a challenge for students to design, build and test fuel-efficient vehicles that travel the farthest distance using the least amount of fuel. The winning design—traveling 2,757.1 miles per gallon (mpg)—fell in the "Prototype" category and was from the Alerion Supermileage team of Laval University in Quebec, Canada.
"We knew coming into the challenge this year that we would have a lot to go up against," David Vallée of Laval University, said in a statement. "But we had confidence in our vehicle and all the hard work that had gone into building it over the past year. We’re just excited the long hours paid off and we were able to win the 2009 Shell Eco-marathon Americas!"
In the "UrbanConcept" category—a new group for this year's competition—the team from Mater Dei High School took the grand prize by achieving 433.3 mpg. Last year, the school set a 2,843 mpg record in the competition.
"The Shell Eco-marathon is a platform for students to let their imaginations run wild," Mark Singer, global project manager for the Shell Eco-marathon, said in a statement. "By encouraging these students to build vehicles with greater energy efficiency, we hope this will help inspire others; and together we can find solutions that will help meet the global energy challenge."
For 2009, students could enter two categories—Prototype or UrbanConcept. Prototype vehicles included streamlined designs focused on maximizing fuel efficiency through innovative design elements, such as drag reduction. The UrbanConcept vehicles were more "roadworthy" fuel-efficient vehicles aimed at meeting real-life needs of drivers.
Teams could use any conventionally available energy source to fuel their machines, including fuels such as diesel, gasoline and liquid petroleum gas (LPG), as well as alternative fuels such as hydrogen, biomass and solar, the company stated.
Prototype entries included 28 vehicles powered by combustion engines, five by fuel cell/hydrogen technology, three by LPG, three by solar power and two by diesel fuel, according to the company. The UrbanConcept entries included two vehicles powered by combustion engines and one by solar power.
Other winners and awards included:
-- Prototype, Fuel Cell/Hydrogen: Penn State University team, with 1,912.9 mpg
-- Prototype, Solar Power: The Purdue Solar Racing team from Purdue University, achieving 4,913 mpg.
-- Eco-Design Award: UCLA team won this award for their Prototype design, which not only contributed to the fuel efficiency, but incorporated recycled and eco-friendly materials.
-- Safety Award: UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Grand Rapids Technical School and Loyola Marymount University won this award by making the most extensive efforts to comply with the safety regulations.
-- Technical Innovation: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (first prize), Purdue University (second prize) and California Polytechnic State University (third prize), were awarded for demonstrating outstanding initiative and technical ingenuity along with optimal use of new materials in the drive train, chassis, instrumentation and tires.
-- Design: Minas Gerais State University was recognized for its innovative design research related to ergonomics, aesthetics, choice of materials and technical feasibility.
-- Communications: Dalhousie University was awarded for its communications efforts regarding the competition, including participation at trade shows, creation of a Web site and all other activities that successfully promote the competition, its name, its founding principle, its educational aspects, etc.
-- Best Team Spirit: presented to George M. Schurr High School, which fostered cooperation and collaboration among the team and others at the competition.
-- Perseverance in the Face of Adversity: awarded to Chitkara Institute of Engineering & Technology in India and Louisiana State University.
-- Shell Opens Registration for 2009 Eco-marathon
-- Shell's Eco-Marathon Americas Welcomes 38 Teams