A team of students from Missouri University of Science and Technology earned fifth place out of 34 competitors at the 2015 national Chem-E-Car competition with its chemical reaction-powered autonomous vehicle.
Missouri S&T’s Chem-E-Car Team competed on Sunday, Nov. 8, in Salt Lake City at the 2015 Annual American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Student Conference. The Chem-E-Car competition challenged teams to design and build a chemically powered shoebox-sized car that uses a chemical reaction to travel a target distance while carrying a pre-established load.
The team qualified for the national competition by earning third place at the AIChE’s 2015 Mid-America Regional Conference, which was held in early April.
At the competition, all vehicles had to travel a randomly set distance. Cars were scored based on how close to the set target line they finished. Each car was assigned a random amount of cargo weight that it had to carry during the race. Teams were given a brief time to calculate the average velocity of their vehicle and decide what volume of the chemical solution would be required to activate the battery’s power. Missouri S&T’s distance was 83 feet and carry load was 7.7 ounces of water.
The Missouri S&T car was named “Box – to the seventh power,” which referenced the car’s construction and the mathematical multiplication tool of (n)th powers. It is powered by a homemade lead-acid battery. The car’s braking system is controlled using a hydrogen peroxide reaction with potassium iodide as a catalyst. This reaction triggers a relay that connects the battery and the motor and allows the vehicle to stop after a set distance.
Folabomi Opakunle, a senior in chemical engineering from Blue Springs, Missouri, is the Chem-E-Car Team president. Dr. Christi Luks, associate teaching professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at Missouri S&T, is the team’s faculty advisor.
The following Missouri S&T students traveled to the event:
Mason Donnell, a junior in biological sciences from Willard, Missouri
Aaron Latal, a senior in chemical engineering from St. Louis
Yae Lin Lee, a junior in chemical engineering from Clayton, Missouri
Michael McMahon, a junior in chemical engineering from Collinsville, Illinois
Kenneth Mucalo, a senior in chemical engineering from St. Louis
Julie Nguyen, a senior in chemical engineering from St. Louis
Folabomi Opakunle, a senior in chemical engineering from Blue Springs, Missouri
Shayan Sazdar, a senior in chemical engineering from Chesterfield, Missouri
Amy Snyder, a senior in chemical engineering from Hillsboro, Missouri
Arjun Suresh, a junior in chemical engineering from St. Louis
Valerie Teson, a junior in chemical engineering from Wentzville, Missouri
Lauren Weil, a senior in chemical engineering from Hecker, Illinois
Mathias Whitworth, a junior in chemical engineering from Mexico, Missouri.
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