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UK Shell Eco-marathon teams aim to beat 11,516 mpg

The Aston University Shell Eco-marathon team line-up beside their Hydro Pod car

Two teams from the UK are preparing to enter cars in the Shell European Eco-marathon, with the aim of beating last year’s record of 11,516 mpg.

The Eco-marathon event challenges high school and college student teams from around the world to design, build and test energy efficient vehicles. With annual events in the Americas, Europe and Asia, the winners are the teams that go the farthest distance using the least amount of energy.

A team from Aston University (pictured) tested their ‘Hydro Pod’ car today in advance of the European event taking place over the period 26-28 May in Germany.

The Aston University team has imagined life in the future and the idea of living in an urban mega-city, which has led them to design a unique ‘folding car’.

There’s also another team from the UK, from Langley Park School for Boys. The Langley Park team is only using recycled parts from bicycles, internal walls from aircraft, and engines from previous cars which entered the race.

The teams are pioneering new ways to help develop cleaner, more diverse fuels and technologies, to help meet the world’s fuel challenges of the future.

The UK teams are among 220 teams from across the globe competing to make the world’s most fuel-efficient vehicle. Each team will ‘race’ 15.5 miles around a track in Lausitz to allow experts to compare each vehicle’s fuel consumption and calculate the distance each vehicle would be able to travel on just one litre of fuel.

Now in its 27th year, the Eco-marathon now inspires over 3,000 students from 26 countries to try and break 2010’s historic record for the furthest distance travelled on the equivalent of a single litre of fuel.

Last year, La Joliverie Projet Microjoule, France, achieved 2,964.7 km/l (6,973.41 mpg) equivalent with their internal combustion vehicle, Microjoule.

The Polyjoule team from Polytech Nantes University, France, achieved a distance of 4896.1 km/l (11,516.34 mpg) equivalent with their fuel cell powered vehicle, Polyjoule.

The Shell Eco-marathon is a global initiative and the Europe event from 26-28 May in Lausitz, Germany, will be echoed by an Eco-marathon for the Americas from 14-17 April in Houston, USA, and an Eco-marathon for Asia from 6-9 July in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.

Teams can enter two categories: the Prototype category, where the design considerations are to reduce drag and maximise engine efficiency (the cars often look futuristic); or the UrbanConcept category, where cars look more like the passenger vehicles that we are all used to seeing on our roads. This year, 168 Prototype and 54 UrbanConcept cars are taking part.

Teams can choose from a range of traditional and alternative fuel types to power their cars with electrical engines being a new addition for 2011. As long as teams adhere to safety rules, vehicle design is limited only by students’ imagination.