MINNEAPOLIS – The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) yesterday announced that the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez took top honors at the international Chem-E-Car competition here on Sunday at AIChE’s Annual Meeting. The team’s car, “CoKi Stroj” used pneumatic pressure to run and a color changing reaction to stop. Coki Stroj defeated 31 other shoe-box sized cars bedecked with cougars, tiger tails and school logos.
The Chem-E-Car competition, which began in 1999, is a fun and practical way for students to apply their knowledge of chemical engineering principles while helping build interest and expertise in alternative fuels. With a growing interest in real-world applications of alternative fuels worldwide, it’s more important than ever for college students to learn about chemical reactions that can move vehicles.
“The competition showcases both the importance of innovation and the relevance of science, technology and math education in the United States,” said June Wispelwey, AIChE Executive Director. “Chemical engineers are working to address today’s energy and transportation issues. Some of our Chem-E-Car participants could engineer a solution to help solve the world’s energy problems.”
The student engineers do not know the size of the load their car has to carry or the distance it must travel until the competition begins. The students then scramble to figure out how to get their car as close to the distance goal as possible. In this year’s event, students were challenged to transport 350 millileters of water 68 feet. Each team received two chances to run their cars, with their final score being their best attempt at meeting the established distance. University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez came the closest and took the top prize of $2,000.
Finishing in second place and taking home $1,000 was the University of California-Davis. Their car, “Stroeve,” was powered by an aluminum air battery with an iodine clock stopping mechanism. Missouri University of Science & Technology placed third with their car “Chem-E-Boat” and took home $500. The Inherent Safety in Design Award (SACHE) went to Texas Tech for “The Dude,” powered by a 6-galvanic cell battery. Bucknell University’s car “Bessie,” powered in part by bovine liver, received an award for the best use of a biological reaction to power a car.