Chem-E-Car Competition Drives Innovation, Alternative Fuels

Shoebox-sized Cars Combining Simple (And Sometimes Weird) Materials with Complex Engineering Carry Loads in Hope of Victory at 15th Annual Collegiate Competition
September 23, 2013


The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) will hold its 15th Annual Chem-E-Car Competition® in conjunction with its Annual Meeting and Annual Student Conference. The competition emphasizes creativity in developing alternative fuels that could hold a key to America’s energy future. The competition is free and open to the public.


Sunday, November 3, 2013, 1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. PST


Hilton San Francisco Union Square
333 O'Farrell St., San Francisco, CA ‎


Students representing 31 international colleges and universities will compete.   Competing schools have advanced to the competition by placing in regional Chem-E-Car contests.


The annual Chem-E-Car Competition is a vivid example of the important real-world applications of chemical engineering. Students use innovative fuels and materials, which have included beef liver and hydrogen peroxide reactions, to create and power a shoebox-size car that will carry a currently unspecified load an unspecified distance. The students will learn the required load size and distance at the event and will have to quickly improvise to achieve that goal. 

The car that gets the closest to the distance goal wins the competition and a $2,000 prize. Last year’s winning car, called Zapdos and engineered by Cornell University, ran on a zinc air battery. The competition highlights the importance of chemical engineers in developing alternative fuels to power America’s real-life vehicles in the future. To see some examples of past Chem-E-Car entries, go to"

Contestants as of September 17, 2013:

  • California State Polytechnic University
  • City College of New York
  • Cornell University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Kansas State University
  • Ohio State University
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Purdue University
  • Rutgers University
  • San Jose State University
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
  • Stony Brook University
  • Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico
  • University of Akron
  • University of British Columbia 
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Houston
  • University of Maine
  • University of Maryland, College Park
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • University of New Haven
  • University of North Dakota
  • University of Puerto Rico    
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Tennessee
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • University of Toledo
  • University of Tulsa
  • University of Utah
  • Virginia Tech
  • Washington State University

About AIChE: AIChE is a professional society of more than 45,000 chemical engineers in 93 countries. Its members work in corporations, universities and government using their knowledge of chemical processes to develop safe and useful products for the benefit of society. Through its varied programs, AIChE continues to be a focal point for information exchange on the frontier of chemical engineering research in such areas as nanotechnology, sustainability, hydrogen fuels, biological and environmental engineering, and chemical plant safety and security. More information about AIChE is available at