University of Alaska's entry for Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2013: Cupid

Photograph courtesy Team Nanook

School: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Team: Nanook

Car Name: Cupid (Hydrogen Prototype category)

What is special about your car? Our prototype vehicle is built in Alaska. We then tear it apart and pack the pieces in our airline luggage. Since this was a fuel cell vehicle, we didn't have to transport any lithium batteries or an engine. Once we arrive in Houston, we reassemble the vehicle in the Paddock area. The dumpsters nearby have an ample supply of recycled materials from previous trade shows. We have been able to find and use old plastic poster signs and building materials. Other teams are also scavenging so it is wise to start looking early for recyclable materials at the convention center where Eco-marathon takes place.

Why is fuel efficiency important to your team? The cost of energy in Alaska is particularly high. Some Alaskan rural villages end up paying close to $10 per gallon for gasoline. Still, with that high of a price, consumption continues. As we approach a global energy crisis, there needs to be emphasis on making energy go further. Even though Alaska is an oil state, oil is a limited resource. We need to concentrate on alternative fuels now. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are an important step in figuring out ways to use something else beside gasoline-powered vehicles.

Who or what inspired you on the way to the Eco-marathon? Our school is very supportive, allowing us to compete for several years. Also we have received funding from our school as well as the UAF sustainability program, Student Government (ASUAF) and in-kind contributions. The students working on the project inspire each other. Finding like-minded students that exhibit a high interest in learning by working together is amazing experience. Students get to explore the usage of alternative fuels, work with their hands, and work as a team. Once in Houston,Texas, the camaraderie of working collectively with other students from other schools and universities is an unique experience. We all have a common goal of making better use of energy for vehicles and transportation.

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