Students from all over the world will compete in the May 22-25 Challenger Event for the Shell Eco-marathon in Berghem (Oss). The event is part of the Dutch Technology Week that starts next Monday. It precedes the European edition of the Shell Eco-marathon of this year, which will take place in London from the 2nd to the 5th of July 2019.
This is the first time The Netherlands will host an official Challenger Event – although the European edition was previously held in Rotterdam. “The Netherlands is a country of innovators and takes the lead when it comes to energy challenges”, notes Karin Liebreks from Royal Dutch Shell. “Shell Eco-marathon offers schools and universities a free platform to collaborate and bring theory into practice, and Shell wants to bring this platform close to the Netherlands, as one of the key markets, and Dutch teams play an important role in the competition in terms of results and collaboration.”
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The Shell Eco-Marathon challenges students to build and drive the most energy-efficient cars. “An ultra energy-efficient car in our eyes is a vehicle of which the energy consumption is very limited. Hence we allow teams only to use a maximum of 1-litre fuel or the equivalent of 1 kWh. The current Mileage Challenge record stands at 3,771 km/l – that’s the equivalent of driving from London to Rome and back again on just one litre of fuel.”
To see the complete set of rules to participate, check Shell Eco-marathon. The Challenger event allows new prospect teams to present and test their projects; for new teams to practice and improve their cars to get selected for the Shell Eco-marathon 2020, and for experienced teams to test and improve their vehicles before the big race in London.
Stimulating Technical Education
Creating the most energy efficient car is not the main only goal of this event. The Shell Eco-Marathon is also perfect for encouraging technical education and for motivating students to think ahead and bring their theory into practice. There are several rules to take part in the race. However, it is imperative that the team members are students. The competition is open to high school students, vocational training and university students. “Together with partners, Shell aims to provide the world of more and cleaner energy. To realise this, we need more technical schooled people joining the workforce, hence we developed Shell Eco-marathon to promote STEM education.”
“It’s Shell’s purpose to thrive in the energy transition. Shell is continuously looking for ways to improve its business and to diminish its net carbon footprint; energy efficiency is an important part of this goal.”
Dutch Technology Week is the perfect place to stimulate technical education, Liebreks says. “Shell Eco-marathon is part of the Dutch Technology Week (DTW) because we support the purpose of DTW to activate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education among youth. Shell Eco-marathon is a platform where STEM comes to life, as the students are bringing their theory to practise by designing and assembling their own hyper-efficient vehicles. Besides the Shell Eco-marathon competition, there is also a mini Generation Discover festival focussing on primary and middle school children from the surrounding to give these children also a STEM experience.”
Shell also takes parts in other activities during the Dutch Technology Week, such as the Night of the Nerds (21 May), which focuses on students age 14-18; and TechMission (23 May) for students age 8-14. “On Saturday 25 May, Shell Eco-marathon will be a “hub” on the High Tech Ontdekkingsroute of DTW together with a local initiative Week van de Techniek.”
A total of 45 students’ teams are expected to participate in the Challenger Event. 13 of these teams are Dutch.
“I believe that our project, driving as efficiently possible with a green fuel, is the ultimate form of sustainable mobility.”
The Eco-Runner Team Delft
One Dutch team has high expectation for this year race. The Eco-Runner Team Delft, from the Delft University of Technology, hopes to win the race again with this year’s car. The Eco-Runner 9 will be racing during the Dutch Technology Week as preparation for the Shell Eco-Marathon in London this July.
“I am sure that we have a really good chance at winning,” says team manager Ruben Hortensius. “It is time that we win again.” The Eco-Runner Team Delft aims to build an extremely efficient hydrogen-powered vehicle from scratch every year. The goal is to compete in the Shell Eco-Marathon, where this year the 9th generation prototype will compete for the title. The “new and improved” car has an in-wheel motor, which was custom-made. Also, the team won 8kg of weight reduction in comparison with last year’s car, which weighted 50kg as opposed to the 42kg of the Eco-Runner 9.
What makes their vehicle stand out is the use of a fuel cell that converts hydrogen into electricity. “We are electrical, the difference between an electric car and our car is that we have a hydrogen tank and a fuel cell, and the fuel cell converts the hydrogen into electricity; from that point on we are the same as an electric powered car.”
Hortensius mentions that the team wants to promote sustainability. “The race is about energy efficiency, everything in the car is built to be efficient. For us, the hydrogen part is really important. What we try to do is educate people about hydrogen and the possibilities with hydrogen. So, by telling about our project and hydrogen, we want to educate people and inspire people to be sustainable.”