The average price for a gallon of gasoline is approaching $4, so there’s lots of interest in finding ways to soften the blow at the pump. Some answers might be found at the Shell Eco-Marathon. For six years Shell has encouraged innovators to come together to showcase prototype cars that will not only have better fuel efficiency, but reduce CO2 emissions. Participants run the gamut from amateur engineers and tech geeks to major motor manufactures like Ford and Honda.
During the marathon, cars in different categories (fuel cell-powered, gasoline-fueled, diesel-fueled, and LPG-fueled) travel at an average speed of 15 miles per hour for 10 miles. Fuel usage is carefully measured, and the winner takes home $10,000.
It was at a 2005 Eco-Marathon that a Swiss university team set the fuel efficiency world record with the Pac-Car II, which used hydrogen fuel cell technology to achieve the equivalent of a mind-boggling 12,600 miles per gallon in a regular gasoline-fueled car and emitted only water as exhaust. On the internal combustion engine side, Quebec’s Université Laval has dominated the last three years with a vehicle that gets 2,564 mpg. Hopes are high that those numbers will be matched — or bested — at this week’s marathon. (And before you ask, yes, solar cars also participate; they just aren’t eligible for the prize. This is a fuel efficiency competition, remember?)
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Spectators are invited to watch the action noon to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For a full schedule of events, call 713-400-7336 or visit www.discoverygreen.com. Free.
March 30-April 1, 2012