Houston engineering competition aims to create the most fuel-efficient vehicle

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Christine Haas / 11 News

Posted on March 14, 2011 at 7:50 PM

HOUSTON -- As the Shell Eco-Marathon challenges engineers of the future to improve fuel efficiency, the students hope their passion for mechanical engineering helps fuel a revolution under the hood. 

The winner of last year's Shell Eco-Marathon came up with a vehicle that gets 2,800 miles a gallon.

Edward Rodriguez is one of eight students building prototype vehicles for the Shell Eco Marathon. 

He said the goal is to build the lightest, fastest and most-fuel efficient vehicle possible.

"Right now I'm taking off an actual piston out of the engine," he said. "We have 59 days to complete our engine, complete our frame and complete a body."

The students are the engineers of tomorrow and they believe this is a bright sign for the future of vehicles and the environment.

There are different categories. One student was working on U of H's first solar-powered vehicle in the competition; others are electric or powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

"We see it as a landmark position for us -- putting U of H and the College of Technology on the map," he said.  

The overall mission is to break the boundaries of efficiency.

Soon Edward believes our cars, even SUVs, will operate with much less fuel, but it will take time.

“At the moment, it's not economically viable to produce these cars because they do cost a lot more than the gas vehicles," he said.

It gives drivers hope as the price at the pump continues to rise as fast as tension in oil producing countries. 

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