Teenagers can be a rowdy bunch while having fun, but they can be genuinely be creatively cool when challenged. This has been proven time and again by Shell's Eco-Marathon that showcases the youthful talents and vigour from across the globe can be focused for the greater good.
The Shell Group of Companies believed in the potential of students in high school and college from all over the world and that they could help solve the persisting and gnawing problem of fuel shortage while striving for efficiency on the road.
Youth participants to the Shell Eco-Marathon have made prototype cars shaped like a whale, a bug, and more so an alien ship that allows you to drive while lying down.
Future on the Road
The youngsters behind the prototypes and the organisers led by the Shell Group of Companies have so far launched the best and the finest automotive machinery prototypes that perhaps in the distant future could be used by the general public to save on fuel but still enjoy bigger mileage with the best road safety mechanisms installed.
In the European leg of the Shell Eco-Marathon, the team from Denmark called the he DTU Roadrunners came first in the ethanol fuel category with the equivalent of 611km/l, breaking their 2011 record by 100 km/l.
"No-one would dream of getting over 600 kilometres from one litre of fuel, and we don't expect family cars to look like ours," says team manager Andreas Junker in the www.shell.com website. "But perhaps we can meet car manufacturers half way."
The winners of the recently concluded 4-day Shell Eco-Marathon Europe held at Rotterdam, UK had only gotten off the track and had just been handed their trophy on stage, but they are already imagining how they could beat their own record in next year's race.
The French team Microjoule from La Joliverie topped the prototype charts for the fifth consecutive year for the petrol-fuelled vehicle category. It was described as a nail-biting finish as the team from Hungary was so close until the final lap. Hungary's Team GAMF from Kecskemet College came in second.
"It was tense - the other team was out on the track with us for the final attempt," says Clément You, Microjoule Team leader in an interview after the race. "Tonight we will celebrate - and next year our goal is 3,000 km!"
In other fuel categories, French team Polyjoule, Polytech Nantes, got ahead with their final attempt powered by their hydrogen-fuelled car. The team covered a distance of 541 km/kWh was enough for victory.
"We played with fire," says team leader Sebastian Sors. "And it paid off!"
The MAC Eco Team from the Netherlands broke the 2011 record, achieving 416 km/l in the in the gas-to-liquids (GTL) category.
Cars for energy efficiency category was bagged by the Electricar Solution team from Lycée des metiers Charles Privat, France. They have set a new record for energy efficiency on an electric battery electric with 263km/kWh.
Team leader Marc-Antoine Souchet says they could credit it all to preparation.
"It's all about the preparation," Souchet notes. "Our car can go 50km/h so one day the technology could be considered for town driving."
The summer run of the Shell Eco-Marathon in Europe and Asia this year has been one of the most gruelling races for the young competitors because it brings out not only their talent but their character to fore.
A team from China-- the Chinese Econopower team (31) from Tsinghua Bauhinia--was disqualified but this did not deter them from participating in the Eco-Marathon by helping another team by sharing their expertise.
More Winning Moments
Econopower team (31) from Tsinghua Bauhinia helped the UITM Eco-Apprentice from Malaysia by making their hydraulic brake system to work.
The Econopower team suggested UITM switch over to their own, simpler cable brake system and not only donated their spare brakes, cables and wheels, but also came over and installed the entire system for them. Both teams then made it through their technical inspection, but UITM's team manager Mohd Tarmizi Bin Ismail knows why: "We would never have been able to race without their help," he says. "We are very, very grateful!"
For Econopower's team manager, Xu Chang, this event was his first visit to another country to meet people from different backgrounds. He said he is happy and he simply says: "We were happy to help, and now feel part of their success."
Shell's Eco-Marathon challenge is now moving to the Americas. Entries and applications are now being accepted. With reports from www.shell.com/eco-marathon