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04-06-2007

Clarkson Chem-E-Car Team Wins Best Engineering Design Award in Boston Competition

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/chemecar2007.jpg

Two Clarkson University chem-e-car teams recently competed in the Chem-E-Car Competition at Northeastern University in Boston. The teams are part of the University's SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design) program. chemecar

One of the challenges of this competition is that beforehand the teams are only told a range for distance and load. The distance the vehicles travel can be up to 150 feet and the load can range from zero to 500 milliliters of water. Teams are told only one hour before the competition what the specifics will be, in order to prove that they know how to use the reactants and concentrations to calibrate the engine to meet the specifications.

After extensive research earlier in the year, two promising ideas were developed by the students and the choice was made to break Clarkson's team into two groups to design two separate cars. Team members said that the production of two cars would not have been possible without a generous donation from ExxonMobil and admittance into the SPEED program.

The "Goodness Gradients" chose Peltier junctions in order to create electricity to power a motor. The junctions are normally used to cool computer processors by inputting a current. Using two chemical reactions, a temperature gradient was formed across the junctions and electricity was produced.

The second team, "CU Blue," chose a voltaic cell, which made use of zinc and copper plates in a copper sulfate solution to produce electricity and power their motor.

The Goodness Gradient team received the award for Best Engineering Design, but was later disqualified. "The car was by far the best performing car at the event, but was unfortunately disqualified due to a technicality," said Robert J. Davis, director of SPEED. Clarkson's car moved 73 feet (out of the required 80) but the chemical reaction that powered it did not complete within the two-minute time limit. They were over the limit by just a few seconds.

The CU Blue team also had a very successful first run, but had technical problems during the second.

The judges were impressed with both designs and encouraged Clarkson's teams to apply for two of the limited number of open positions to the national student Chem-E-Car competition to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, in November.

The chem-e-car team members at the competition were Christopher Miller, a junior chemical engineering major from Depew, N.Y.; Adam Ruskin, a junior chemical engineering major from Brookfield, Conn.; Delia Bearup, a senior chemical engineering major from Petersburgh, N.Y.; Katelyn Parker, a senior chemical engineering major from Phelps, N.Y.; Nathan Jean, a senior chemical engineering major from Washington, Vt.; Joshua Close, a senior chemical engineering major from Parish, N.Y.; Ryan McBath, a senior chemical engineering major from Canton, N.Y.; Bradley Buchheit, a junior chemical engineering major from Lebanon, Ore.; Michelle Pede, a junior chemical engineering major from Minoa, N.Y.; Mitchell Anderson, a junior chemical engineering major from Snyder, N.Y.; Douglas Lim, a freshman chemical engineering major from Newton, Mass.; Christy Petruczok, a senior chemical engineering major from Orchard Park, N.Y.; Melissa Bell, a junior chemical engineering major from Wyalusing, Pa.; Matthew Krasowski, a junior chemical engineering major from Cicero, N.Y.; Andrew Maslyn, a junior chemical engineering major from Rochester, N.Y.; Anna Paola Soliani, a junior chemical engineering major from Genoa, Italy; and Tyler Conlon, a junior e-business major from Morris, Conn.

Clarkson University, located in Potsdam, New York, is a private, nationally ranked university with a reputation for developing innovative leaders in engineering, business, the sciences, health sciences and the humanities. At Clarkson, 3,000 high-ability students excel in an environment where learning is not only positive, friendly and supportive but spans the boundaries of traditional disciplines and knowledge. Faculty achieves international recognition for their research and scholarship and connects students to their leadership potential in the marketplace through dynamic, real-world problem solving.

Photo caption: Clarkson University's chem-e-car team recently competed in the Chem-E-Car Competition at Northeastern University in Boston. Clarkson's "Good Gradient" team received the award for Best Engineering Design.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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