Automotive

Eco Marathon competitors take fuel-saving to the extreme

Eco Marathon competitors take ...
The Microjoule is one of the most successful Eco Marathon challengers
The Microjoule is one of the most successful Eco Marathon challengers
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The Alérion Supermileage is made of carbon fiber
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The Alérion Supermileage is made of carbon fiber
The Microjoule is one of the most successful Eco Marathon challengers
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The Microjoule is one of the most successful Eco Marathon challengers
The TIM07 uses resin-coated silk for its lightweight body
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The TIM07 uses resin-coated silk for its lightweight body
Anyone who's afraid of Ikea needs to avoid this car from Aston University
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Anyone who's afraid of Ikea needs to avoid this car from Aston University
This is Singapore's first 3D printed concept car
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This is Singapore's first 3D printed concept car
The car is built around a carbon fiber frame
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The car is built around a carbon fiber frame
The Singaporean team went to great lengths to make sure the solar panels follow the roof curves
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The Singaporean team went to great lengths to make sure the solar panels follow the roof curves
The car is almost translucent thanks to its design
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The car is almost translucent thanks to its design
Alérion Supermileage has a super-low drag coefficient
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Alérion Supermileage has a super-low drag coefficient
Alérion Supermileage uses carbon fiber to save weight
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Alérion Supermileage uses carbon fiber to save weight
All the materials on Aston University's car are sustainable
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All the materials on Aston University's car are sustainable
The car can be folded away for easy travel and storage
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The car can be folded away for easy travel and storage
The team behind Aston University's car
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The team behind Aston University's car
View gallery - 13 images

Since 1985, the Shell Eco Marathon has pitched teams of students against each other in an attempt to see who can travel the furthest using the energy from one liter of fuel (or its equivalent). Teams compete by running at 15 mph (24 km/h) over 6.3 miles (10 km), and the cars that use the least fuel, electricity or alternative propulsion method are crowned winners in their class.

It's a simple premise which belies a complex mix of design and engineering challenges. From left-field materials to low-slung, bullet designs, here's a look at some of the more interesting competitors from Eco Marathon events around the world.

Toulouse Ingénerie Multidisciplinarie

The TIM07 uses resin-coated silk for its lightweight body
The TIM07 uses resin-coated silk for its lightweight body

Toulouse Multidisciplinary Engineering school has ignored more traditional lightweight materials like carbon fiber and aluminum, instead using resin-coated silk to create its bullet-style body.

The major drawback to using the layered-silk method is how fiddly it is. Just a single particle of dust can disrupt the weave of the silk fabric, but on the other hand, its use results is a body that weighs just 13 kg (28.7 lb).

Thanks to this super-light body, the TIM 07 weighs just 67 kg (147.7 lb) in total.

Nanyang Technological University

This is Singapore's first 3D printed concept car
This is Singapore's first 3D printed concept car

The NTU Venture 8 is Singapore's first 3D-printed concept car, and has a solar power system working in tandem with batteries to power its electric motor.

Built around a carbon fiber shell, the NV8's body is made up of 150 individual panels that took three months to print and assemble. The silicon solar cells on the roof are sliced into strips with a high-speed saw, then wired up to form a module.

Although that might sound like a complex procedure, it was the best way for the team to get the cells to conform to the car's shape, and evidence of how hard teams are working to make these clever engineering solutions work on their fuel-saving creations.

Laval University

The Alérion Supermileage is made of carbon fiber
The Alérion Supermileage is made of carbon fiber

Laval University's Alerion Supermileage showed its worth at this year's Eco Marathon event in Detroit, where it managed to achieve the equivalent of 1,099 km (682.9 mi) per liter of fuel on a track.

This remarkable economy comes from a combination of low weight and an incredible drag coefficient of just 0.072. Tipping the scales at just 96 kg (211.64 lb), the car's carbon fiber monocoque is shifted by a 1.95 hp (1.45 kW) Briggs & Stratton motor attached to the single rear wheel.

La Joliviere

The Microjoule is one of the most successful Eco Marathon challengers
The Microjoule is one of the most successful Eco Marathon challengers

La Joliviere's entry makes Laval University's 1,099 km/liter car look a bit thirsty, having achieved a crazy 2551.8 km/liter (1585.6 mi) in last year's Rotterdam Eco Marathon.

Rather than competing with gasoline powered cars the Microjoule gets its power from compressed natural gas, but a petrol-powered version of the car holds the all-time record at a scarcely believable 3,771 km/liter (2,343.2 mi).

Aston University

All the materials on Aston University's car are sustainable
All the materials on Aston University's car are sustainable

Look away now if you're not comfortable with Ikea furniture, because Aston University's creation, which competed in 2012, is a flat-pack car. Made of a combination of sustainable wood and cardboard, even the tires are made of an eco-friendly bio-resin infused with hessian fibers.

The car (if you can call it that) is hydrogen powered, and can be flat-packed after use for easy shipping and storage. All up, it weighs 170 kg (374.8 lb), and can eke out the equivalent of 50 mpg (4.7 l/100 km).

The next running of the Shell Eco Marathon will take place in London, starting on June 30.

View gallery - 13 images
2 comments
watersworm
La joliverie and Laval get stunning and amazins results with alien like cars ( cars ?) But I love Toulouse and Nanyang approach for "quasi every day use" véhicules. Funny Aston's (not Martin !) with a stunning bad 4,7liter per 100 km/50 mpg !!!
Paul Gracey
This competition's rules have been essentially stagnant for years. I am 73 years old and I can ride my streamlined recumbent bicycle faster than the average speeds they make on no fuel at all except for what I eat. By the way I did ride that bike completely across the USA in 2000 at an average speed for the entire trip of 14 mph. 20 mph was typical of my flat ground speed. To streamline a rider and vehicle with a single cylinder engine that only goes 15 mph is getting rather silly when streamlined bicycles and world class riders are getting over 90km for 1 hour(56mph).