May 22, 2006 12:06 PM PDT

Ethanol car wins fuel efficiency challenge

How far can you go on a tank of ethanol? Some students in France this weekend showed that the answer could be in the thousands of miles.

That is, of course, if you don't mind driving a car not much bigger than you are.


An ethanol-powered vehicle engineered by students from the Lycee La Joliverie took top honors at the Shell Eco-marathon, a contest to build a car that can drive as far as possible using the least amount of energy.

The vehicle averaged an astounding 2,885 kilometers per liter, or approximately 6,786 miles per gallon, according to an announcement released Sunday by race officials.

While the car did not break last year's record of 9,023 mpg, it was significant in that it was an ethanol-powered vehicle. Hydrogen-powered vehicles, which were predicted to win early on in the race, became runners-up.

The ESSTIN-Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy team, also from France, took second place with their hydrogen-powered vehicle, which traveled at 6,548 mpg. France's Polytech Nantes-La Joliverie took third place, with 6,421 mpg. Another hydrogen-powered car, entered by the German Hochschule Offenburg team, came in at No. 4 with 6,148 mpg.

This year's Shell Eco-marathon took place on the Nogaro circuit in southwest France. More than 3,000 students, representing 250 European educational institutions, participated in the event. Eight teams managed to break the 4,704 mpg barrier.

Other awards were distributed for design. The Eco-Design award, which takes into account the materials and energy used to produce a car, went to the ENSIETA (Ecole Nationale Supereure d'Ingenieurs) Brest team for its bamboo-and-metal chassis, covered in paper.

The Lycee Gustave Eiffel de Talange team won first place in the Social/Hospitality Award category. The high-school students chose to tackle the subject of sexually transmitted disease by linking car safety and sexual safety with their condom-shaped vehicle.

The race, which aims to raise energy awareness, is also under the patronage of European Union Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

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The Metric Conversion is flawed
2885 Kilometers is 1788.7 miles, not over 6000.

You multiply the kilometers by .62 and that will give you the rough miles.
Posted by Arador (2 comments )
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I apoligize
I saw liters and though gallons, my mistake, I am sorry.
Posted by Arador (2 comments )
Link Flag
Arador forgot to covert liters to gallons. If you muliply 1788 miles times 3.784, you get 6765 miles per gallon.
Posted by rustylrw (1 comment )
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CO/CO2 research?
Just curios. Is there any research going on to process CO/CO2?

It is well adertised fact hydrogen/oxygen as fuel is cleanest having water as byproduct.

But have anyone researching possible ways to absorb CO/CO2?
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why not air powered cars?
They work and they are being tested right now.

Use a Solar Powered compressor at home and you have ZERO fuel cost (unless you plug your compressor into the grid rather than Solar Power) and ZERO emmissions.

But that wouldn't make anyone a profit ... would it.

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See it in action:

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Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
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news reported by non qualified and non subject informed.
This is making me triple check the facts and not believe anything what I read unless I get it from multiply sources. Please be aware that Gasoline is replaceable but we are still bit to far from it. Thanks to Arabs and all our terrorist friends we can still drive, have a nice vacation and visit our families.

long live USA
Posted by oliversolman (5 comments )
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RE: Why not air powered cars?
Using compressed/liquified air to run cars is a fine idea. It has many advantages over the much touted liquid hydrogen fuel (which is what fuel cell cars run on.) Compressed air is 80% nitrogen so this option is sometime referred to runing cars on liquid nitrogen or "an LN2 economy" as contrasted to the much touted "hydrogen economy."

Unfortunately both a highly misleading in that it is most important to note that hydrogen fuel cells are not a source of energy ...The energy still has to be produced elsewhere. Hydrogen, like compressed air, is a way of DISTRIBUTING energy. This is a major issue, which sadly is either not understood, ignored, or minimized ("Oh, I suppose we can get the energy from solar or something") as "this is so cool that we can worry about THAT issue later" type of response.

Problem is that if the energy to release/store hydrogen comes from oil/fossil fuels (as 85% of it does now) it actually would INCREASE our dependence on oil and INCREASE greenhouse gases.
So, UNTIL the issue of "where will the energy come from" is resolved celebrating and promoting the hydrogen economy OR compressed air (nitrogen economy) as our savior is grossly and dangerously misleading -- a head-in-the-sand posture.

# Driving energy by nuclear power is a possible solution. However,the seriousness seriousness of the waste storage problem has been underestimated -- and I don't just mean the political/NIMBY problems.
Also, in "The Party's Over" by Richard Heinberg (I recommend it to anyone seriously interested in understanding the consequences of our dependence on oil) he has analyzed the nuclear power option, and among the several show stoppers there is that there just isn't that much uranium in the world. So nuclear power won't save us. He goes further to say "it is a mistake to view oil depletion as [just] a technical problem that can be solved by substituting other energy sources of petroleum." In this space I can't cover his reasons for that apparently counter-intuitive statement but would suggest he makes a compelling case.

# Of course that is no reason to not (a)look for alternative energy sources (b) look for a good way to distribute that energy safely and economically, and (c) make great increases in how efficiently we use energy. This is called "conservation". Duh!

# That, "b", being said, although liquid hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells as a distribution system for energy to have some advantages, there is an easier better way to accomplish the same trick.
It has been tried, works, well researched, and mostly ignored:
LIQUID NITROGEN can be use to run engines. Liquid nitrogen expands by 980 times its volume when changing from a liquid to a gas. Expansion means pressure which translates to power.

It has been tried, works, well researched, and mostly ignored:
LIQUID NITROGEN (or compressed/liquified air) can be use to run engines. Liquid nitrogen expands by 980 times its volume when changing from a liquid to a gas. Expansion means pressure which translates to power.

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Running a liquid nitrogen economy (N2 liquified) -- LN2 for short -- has the following significant advantages over trying to distribute power in the form of liquid hydrogen:

~ Unlike Hydrogen, nitrogen neither burns nor explodes (remember the Hindenberg?) The safety issues in its transportation and storage are far less than for that of hydrogen, and are already well developed as large quantifies of it are already moved around the country.

~ The engines that run on liquid nitrogen are far more conventional, arguably simpler, and easier to get into large scale production than fuel cell engines.

~ Nitrogen is 80% of the air we breath so releasing nitrogen out the tailpipe of a car is even less enviromentally intrusive than releasing hot-water-vapor (which comes our of a hydrogen car).

~ Unlike a hydrogen fuel cell engine a LN2 engine produces NO heat.

~ LN2 engines are likely to be extremely long lived as they have no heat, no heat degrading the lubricant, etc.

~ A minor advantage is that a car running on N2 needs no airconditioner as a by product of its running is cold air.

~ A fleet of millions of LN2 cars running in a large city would actually COOL the air in the summer and improve the climate and livability of cities like LA and Phoenix.

~ Last, but perhaps not least, public fear of nitrogen should be less. It can be sold to Ma and Pa America, quite honestly, as totally non-toxic, totally natural (remember 80% of what you're breating right now is nitrogen), and totally un-flamable an non explosive.

For more info on the LN2 option you can contact
Posted by acensor (1 comment )
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so where does the energy to compress
and liquify the nitrogen come from?
Posted by JoeCrow (83 comments )
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