Mater Dei High School of Evansville, Ind., finished first at the recent SAE 2005 Supermileage competition, posting a top fuel economy of 1,836 miles per gallon (mpg). The University of British Columbia finished first in the collegiate division with a top fuel economy of 1,608 mpg. Both schools have won first place overall in the competition for two consecutive years.
The Mater Dei team had also taken first place just a few weeks before in the Indiana Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Alliance (IMSTEA) Super Mileage Challenge with an average 1,015.60 mpg over three runs. (The picture above, right shows both cars used in the IMSTEA challenge; for the SAE Supermileage Challenge, the entry was the car on the left.)
The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) began its Supermileage competition in 1980 as a means of generating awareness of fuel economy to the public. (Note the timing: in the midst of the Iranian oil crisis.) Competitors are challenged to build a one-person, fuel-efficient vehicle around a small, four-cylinder engine then demonstrate its fuel efficiency by traveling 9.6 miles on an oval track while maintaining a speed of at least 15 miles per hour. The team whose vehicle achieves the highest amount of miles per gallon wins the event.
This year, 28 collegiate teams and eight high school teams entered the competition. Mishawaka High School of Mishawaka, Ind., finished second in the high school division with 972 mpg and South Spencer High School of Rockport, Ind. rounded out the top three with a finish of 756 mpg. The second place finish in the collegiate division went to the University of Quebec of Canada with 1,584 mpg and Ivy Tech State College of Evansville, Ind., finished third with 1,529 mpg for their vehicle.
|UBC Entry||UBC Entry with top shell removed|
The University of British Columbia team entry rides extremely low with its wheels totally encased in a teardrop-shaped 3-ply carbonfiber body, powered by a reduced-displacement (48cc), fuel-injected engine. The vehicle features an aluminum honeycomb chassis with a carbon fiber body that achieves a drag coefficient of only 0.11. (By comparison, the aerodynamic Honda Insight has a drag coefficient of 0.25, and the ideal teardrop shape has a drag coefficient of about 0.04).
The team spent significant time in the wind tunnel and in CAD programs to reduce the Cd to 0.11. The UBC entry in 2003/2004 had a Cd of 0.17.
(A hat-tip to Ernie Rogers!)