An ethanol-powered car has achieved the best fuel efficiency at the just-concluded Shell Eco-marathon 2006. The car, engineered by students from the Lycee La Joliverie (France) also took the “Climate Friendly” prize for producing the least greenhouse gas emissions in the process.
The winning car completed seven laps of the Nogaro circuit in southwest France, with an energy consumption equivalent to 2,885 km/liter of gasoline: .0347 liters/100km or 6,779 mpg US.
The car bested a field of entrants using many types of energy: biofuels, gasoline, diesel, hydrogen and solar. The top eight finishers all broke the 2,000km/liter mark.
The performance of the ethanol team has shown that hydrogen powered vehicles are not the only solution to the Shell Eco-marathon challenge for energy efficiency. The fact that so many fuel types are represented in the top teams is a great sign of the wide range of alternative energies which could play a part in the future of transportation.—Vincent Tertois, technical director for the Shell Eco-marathon
In second place came the hydrogen-powered ESSTIN-Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy team (France), followed by the hydrogen-powered Polytech Nantes-La Joliverie team (France).
Polytech Nantes-Joliverie had been locked in a battle with German team Hochschule Offenburg and ESSTIN to achieve the best ranking for a hydrogen car. At the close of the circuit on Sunday, Hochschule Offenburg found themselves in fourth position with a fuel consumption of 2,614km/l.
|The award-winning wheel-hub motor.|
The Offenburg team had switched from diesel to hydrogen for the 2006 event and also used an innovative wheel-hub motor, which won them the Bosch technical innovation award.
According to the judges, the compact form of the wheel-hub motor, which includes the power electronics, is exceptionally efficient and eliminates free-wheeling. It took the team several attempts to design this electric pancake. Built without iron or steel, there are no magnetic losses, and achieving the distance of 2,614 km Saturday validated the quality of the concept.
Second prize in the technical innovation category went to ESSTIN Nancy for their optimization of the fuel cell. Off-the-shelf fuel cells were too heavy or too powerful, so the engineers of ESSTIN Nancy built their own, including the fabrication of graphite plates. They added supercapacitors to the fuel cell to improves efficiency and acceleration. The invention significantly reduced the size and weight of the powertrain to the rear drive wheel.
The third prize in the category went to Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany, for a virtual accelerator and drive wheel in their fuel-cell vehicle. The rear wheel pivots around a carefully defined virtual axis that provides both precision and stability in turns. The accelerator pedal made of a composite spring doesn’t move; rather, it responds to pressure by deforming, sending a precise electrical signal to the control unit governing the electrical output of the fuel cell. Besides being technically cool, it provides remarkable precision because it doesn’t jump around on rough roads.