Students run their energy- and power-efficient cars at the Shell Eco-marathon, part of Make the Future
How far can a car go on a litre of fuel? Last week, a student team from SRM University tested a prototype that returned a fuel-efficiency of 100kpl. Another team from BITS Pilani ran a car on ethanol that returned 120kpl, and a team from KJ Somaiya College Mumbai was able to touch 250kpl in its vehicle. These three are part of 20 teams that participated at this year’s Shell Eco-marathon in Chennai. “The Eco-marathon challenges students to design, build and drive the world’s most energy-efficient vehicles,” said Nitin Prasad, chairman, Shell India, the energy major. This year was the first time the Eco-marathon took place in India, at the Madras Motor Race Track.
Part of the bigger Make the Future event—a platform for conversation focused on world’s energy challenges—the Eco-marathon invites student teams from colleges who compete in a race to see who has the most energy-efficient vehicle.
This year, student teams competed in two categories: Prototype (they showcased futuristic vehicles with incredible aerodynamics) and Urban Concept (more conventional, roadworthy, energy-efficient vehicles aimed at meeting real-life needs of drivers). In Urban Concept, the teams were allowed to run their vehicles under two engine types: internal combustion (petrol, diesel and biofuel) and battery electric. In the latter, for example, Team Averera from IIT-BHU build a lightweight, three-wheeled EV with customised motor controller—it had a range of 350km on a single charge. Likewise, NIT Raipur’s team Astra developed an EV that maximises the utilisation of energy stored in the battery for propulsion of the vehicle. Team Thrusters of the National Institute of Foundry and Forge Technology, Ranchi, developed an EV prototype that can provide a mileage of 150km per kWh. And Team Panthera of the Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women developed an EV prototype that can go beyond 250km on a single charge.
All these innovations, it must be noted, are not really market-ready solutions, but have the potential to be studied further. This event also gives a chance to student teams to learn from concept cars Shell has developed, including the Urban Concept, the Prototype, and the Shell Concept Car—the three-seater car that runs on petrol, weighs only 550kg, returns a mileage of 38kpl at a speed of 70kph, and almost the entire car can be recycled at the end of its life.