Team Shares Knowledge About Alternative Fuel Vehicles
ROLLA - Missouri S&T's EcoCAR team hosted National Alternative Vehicle Day on Friday. Members educated the public on alternative fuels that benefit both the environment, and the economy. EcoCAR is a three-year competition that challenges students to re-engineer a GM vehicle to decrease emissions, energy consumption and green house gases.
Missouri S&T is one of 16 collegiate teams from across North America competing in the competition to "build the car of the future," while maintaining acceptable performance, utility and safety. The teams are designing different types of alternative fuel vehicles, from ethanol, to biodiesel, to full function electric battery usage.
The vehicle Missouri S&T's team designed has fuel efficiency comparable to a Chevy Equinox - about 200 miles running on hydrogen alone and about 30 miles on electric power, for a combined 250 mile total range.
Missouri S&T is the only team from Missouri, with about 40 students. The U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors and Natural Resources Canada sponsor the competition.
Missouri S&T has produced hydrogen on-site for two years and is the only hydrogen station in Missouri.
EcoCAR Chief Business Officer David Lecko said, ""They're basically training us while we're still in school."
The goal is to develop the next set of automotive engineers. Lecko explained that about 75 percent of students involved in the competition enter the auto industry after the end of the competition.
Assistant Research Professor Kevin Martin explained that the state of Missouri benefits from the competition as well. A plastics company in Springfield and machining company in St. Louis are among Missouri companies that have donated to the EcoCAR team. Martin said the research builds expertise in the state, and companies "get a glimpse into the future."
'We learn from them, they learn from us. There's a mutual benefit," Martin said.
"I've always kind of been interested in electric vehicles, so I'm interested in promoting technology that can help make a better world," Missouri S&T's EcoCAR team's lead electrical engineer Andrew Meintz explained.
The first year of the competition essentially involved vehicle design, the second year, vehicle modification and system design, and the third year, optimization and refinement to get the vehicle 99 percent ready for production. The development mimics GM's production process.
Teams will travel to Washington D.C. for the competition's conclusion in Washington D.C.