The University of North Alabama’s Chem-E-Car beat out scores of international competition to place third overall in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) 19th Annual Chem-E-Car Competition.
The collegiate event features cars ranging in size from shoeboxes to fire hydrants powered by alternative fuels. The competition highlights the important role chemical engineers have played in the creation of today’s existing fuels and the role they’ll play in future development.
The cars were created using a wide array of materials and fueling methods. Teams qualified by placing at various regional competitions throughout the year. One hour before the competition, the students are told the amount of water their cars must carry and the distance the cars must travel. The students must then quickly calculate the appropriate chemical reaction.
UNA’s team, which is housed in the Engineering Technology program, placed third overall with a car powered by electricity, making it environmentally friendly.
Dr. Peter Rim, UNA’s director and department chair for Engineering Technology said the third-place finish is another impressive victory for the team, who are in their first year of participating in the Chem-E-Car Competition.
“We knew, due to extensive practice sessions, the team was prepared to do well,” Rim said. “However, to maintain the poise and success the team demonstrated when matched against leading engineering schools like Cornell, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Maryland, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech, was remarkable”
Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember took home the $2,000 first prize, sponsored by Chevron, with a pressurized car that used oxygen, created as the result of a decomposition reaction of hydrogen peroxide and ferric chloride.
The University of California, Irvine, took home second place using a fuel source that consisted of hydrogen gas produced using solid magnesium and hydrochloric acid, which was then fed into a 20-watt hydrogen fuel cell to power the car.
This year, there were several international teams representing Greece, Hong Kong, India, China, South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and Colombia.