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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


“3,149 mpg car zips in Eco-marathon”

Valentina Martinelli/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

President Robert Sheldon takes
Valentina Martinelli
Valentina Martinelli/ Arizona Daily Wildcat President Robert Sheldon takes

The Arizona solar racing team achieved 3,149 miles per gallon with their custom solar-powered car named Mallory — talk about good fuel economy.

The team competed in six heats at the Shell Eco-marathon in Houston from March 26 to 28. Their score did not qualify, however, because their solar car was about 200 pounds over the maximum weight allowed, weighing in at 352 pounds.

The Shell Eco-marathon began in 1939 and sees competitors from around the world. Each team’s solar car must make the equivalent of 10 laps around a speedway and maintain a minimum speed of 15 mph for 26 minutes. After the laps are completed, race marshals determine which car achieved the most miles per gallon in the shortest time by reading its jolt meter.

Purdue University ranked first in the race, with their car achieving more than 5,000 miles per gallon. The UA would have received the second highest-ranking score in the competition if their car had met weight requirements.

“”If we were able to qualify we would be thousands of miles more mi/gal than the other urban challenge cars and second overall to Purdue’s vehicle,”” wrote electrical and computer engineering graduate student Wei Ren Ng on the team’s Web site.

Eight active members on the team traveled to Houston to compete. Portions of Houston’s roadways were shut down to create a trapezoidal track for competing teams as they raced through the city.

“”We did a great job for a second-year team,”” said systems engineering graduate student Sean Martinez.

The solar car cost about $80,000 and took eight months to build. It has a fiberglass body and is powered by a combination of solar energy and a lithium-ion battery pack.

The Arizona solar racing team was featured at an event last Thursday outside of the UA’s Mirror Lab. UA President Robert Shelton and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords were among guests at the event.

“”Whoa, watch out,”” Shelton said as he took the team’s solar car for a test drive around the parking lot. “”This is nothing like my Prius.””

The team plans to improve their performance and qualify in the 2011 Shell Eco-marathon, by using newer, lighter material and better plying on their next car.

“”A similar car with minor changes that is lighter in weight should allow us to qualify and compete with Purdue’s performance,”” said Martinez, who is one of the team’s student leaders.

The solar racing team is mostly comprised of engineering students but is open to anyone, said mechanical engineering junior Sergio Reyes.

“”The Arizona solar racing team provides hands-on experience, which all engineer students should have,”” he added.

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