The sport-utility vehicle reengineered by students at Missouri University of Science and Technology may not have won the top honor at the EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge Competition Finals, but it was judged as one of the most environmentally friendly cars in the event.
The Missouri S&T team also won the award for most improved team in the competition. The team also was recognized for its efforts to minimize the environmental impact of the S&T vehicle.
The EcoCAR competition was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors Co. The teams spent the past three years re-engineering a car to use less fuel and reduce emissions, while retaining its performance, safety and consumer appeal.
The EcoCAR finals were held June 5-12 in Milford, Mich., and June 12-16 in Washington, D.C. Competition results were announced Thursday, June 16, in Washington, D.C.
Missouri S&T’s EcoCAR, a re-engineered 2009 Chevrolet SUV, is powered by hydrogen fuel cell and lithium ion batteries. “Our car and one other team’s are the only hydrogen cars,” says Michelle Y. Taylor, a graduate student from Rolla who is working on her MBA at Missouri S&T. A member of the EcoCAR Outreach Team, she earned her bachelor’s degree in business and management systems from the university in 2009.
In addition to receiving recognition as the most improved team, the Missouri S&T group took top honors for lowest tailpipe emissions and lowest petroleum energy usage. S&T also finished second for lowest well-to-wheel greenhouse emissions.
A team from Virginia Tech won the competition by designing an extended-range electric vehicle using E85 (ethanol).
For Missouri S&T students, the big win from their three-year experience was the opportunity to draw attention to hydrogen power as an alternative energy source.
“A large part of our role is spreading the word about hydrogen power,” Taylor says. “We spend a lot of time educating youth and the general public.”
Missouri S&T has had significant success with several of its hydrogen-powered projects. A team of S&T students recently finished fourth in the 2011 Hydrogen Student Design Contest with its design of a residential hydrogen fueling system. Missouri S&T teams won the competition in 2010 and 2008.