May 7, 2012
Budding engineers from throughout the world are taking place in competition to develop an engine that can run on only a small amount of fuel.
Students from the University of Michigan are among those participating in the SAE International Supermileage Challenge, which takes place in Marshall, Michigan, annually. Contestants must engineer a single-person, fuel efficient car with a four-stroke engine, according to the University of Michigan News Service.
The engineering research competition is one of the nation's largest, and students from the University of Michigan said their model vehicle is expected to require only one gallon of fuel to travel 3,300 miles. The team used only a lawnmower engine in their design, and they asserted they could potentially boost the engine's fuel efficiency before the start of the competition.
"We are taking something that is in your backyard and turning it into something that's sleek, modern and high-performance," said Laura Pillari, the team's co-founder and a mechanical engineering major at the school.
The current North American record holder was able to drive 3,169 miles on a single gallon of fuel. The students said that the technologies they are using in their design could easily be manufactured on large-scale in only a few years time,
"Fuel efficiency is one of those issues prevalent in society today," affirmed team co-founder and senior mechanical engineering student Brett Merkel. "The technology we're coming up with can have far-reaching effects, and be implemented in just a few years."
Their optimism is well founded, according to professors and contest organizers. One of the team's members, Lihang Nong, is already making a name for himself with one of the components he designed that the team is using in its model car. Nong was responsible for the car's fuel injection system, which a startup is currently endeavoring to popularize.
The company, PicoSpray, was the recipient of $20,000 prize at the Michigan Clean Energy Venture Competition. The startup is working on the university's student business incubator, TechArb, according to the news provider, and it is poised to disrupt the automobile market with its energy efficient reworking of a conventional fuel injector scheme.