Cedarville University SuperMileage Team's Urbie, entered in Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2013

Photograph courtesy Cedarville University SuperMileage Team

School: Cedarville University

Team: Cedarville University SuperMileage Team

Car Name: Urbie (Gasoline Urban Concept category)

What is special about your car? "Urbie" is a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) which we believe was the only HEV to compete in the Shell Eco-marathon this year. We have a 25-cc (weed-whacker size) four-cycle Honda internal combustion engine (ICE) that uses gasoline as fuel to turn two 200-watt 36-volt electric generators. These generators produce electricity that is stored in an ultra capacitor bank. Ultra capacitors are rechargeable but are more efficient than rechargeable batteries. The ultra-capacitor bank provides electric power to the two 200-watt 36-volt motors that propel the car. This design allows us to run the ICE at its most efficient speed. This ICE would typically be turned on four times during the 10-lap race to recharge the capacitors. An electric drive train allows us to vary the car's speed depending on the wind conditions. Typically ICE-powered cars cannot drive relative to the wind because the cars are accelerated to 20 mph and then coast down to 10 mph. Since we have three mandatory stops during the race, an electric drive train allows us to convert the kinetic energy in the car into electrical energy that can be stored in the ultra-capacitor bank. This is called regenerative braking and it allows us to get more miles per gallon of gas.

Why is fuel efficiency important to your team? As stewards of God's creation we are to care for the earth. This includes using wisely and efficiently the finite natural resources that are found in the earth. Since transportation is a major consumer of oil, one way that we can conserve our resources is by developing more fuel-efficient vehicles. This both conserves our natural resources and reduces pollution.

Who or what inspired you on the way to the Eco-marathon? Initially it was a group of students who saw the advertisement for the first Shell Eco-marathon Americas to be held at the California Speedway in 2007. They asked their SAE Supermileage advisor about competing in the race. With his enthusiastic support and encouragement we have participated in every Shell Eco-marathon Americas since then. We have also been encouraged by other faculty and a host of sponsors who have donated gifts in kind to help us design and build our cars. The team leaders this year were inspired by the excitement and commitment of the new students on our team. We had two dozen new students this year who became an integral part of our team, and without them we could not have competed at the level we did. Another element is that Shell does an exceptional job of hosting this event. They have always been helpful, friendly, and encouraging in all of our interactions with them. They have helped make this a fun event.

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