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12 June 2012

SHELL ECO-MARATHON: Three thousand kilometres per liter

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This year's 28 annual student competition Shell Eco-marathon Europe for the lowest consumption took place in Rotterdam, Netherlands, for the first time.
Shell Eco-marathon is one of the most innovative and challenging student competitions, which takes place in Europe, America and Asia every year. The task for high school and college student teams from around the world is to design and build the most energy efficient vehicles. Already 28 annual European competition was held from 17 to 19 May, 2012 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Competition moved from race tracks to an urban track – right to the city streets – for the first time in history and the public had a chance to watch the race from immediate closeness. 
Almost 200 teams from 21 European countries participated in the race. The competition was traditionally split in two categories – Prototypes (futuristic aerodynamic vehicles) and UrbanConcept (urban-type vehicles built according to road specifications that meet the current drivers needs). Both categories drove various types of drives – from gasoline, ethanol, GTL (gas-to-liquid), hydrogen to solar or battery power.

This year students had to deal with the difficulties of a new track, which also included five 90° corners. The teams relied more on their driving skills – braking, acceleration and cornering influenced up to 50% of the final result. Driving in the streets also proved car’s practical utility on public roads. 

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There was also a rich accompanying program throughout the entire race, including entertainment and educational exhibition about energy called The Lab, which attracted not only children but also adults. Over 500 people attended the conference "Powering Progress Together" organized under the auspices of the Mayor of Rotterdam, which was focused on global issues and the future use of water, food and energy.

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The public had the opportunity to watch the most even-tempered battle for victory in the last few years. Prizes were split among teams from ten different countries eventually and on the top of it three new records were set. French Team Electricar Solution broke the existing record in the UrbanConcept category in battery powered vehicles class with 262.6 km/kWh (an improvement of 29.6 km/kWh). DTU Roadrunners team from Technical University of Denmark improved its own record from last year again by 102.1 km/l, reaching a result of 611.1 km/l. Excellent results were also celebrated by the multiple winner, team Microjoule Joliverie-La (France), which took first place in the prototype with a combustion engine category with a performance of 2,832.8 km/l. Can you imagine that you could drive for instance from Prague to Lisbon, Portugal, per a single litre of fuel? The journey would be very uncomfortable and you would not take luggage with you yet. But student concepts bring innovative ideas that maybe one day can help us find a solution of the limited energy resources problems.
The fact that this year's program attracted not only enthusiastic students was confirmed by unexpectedly high attendance – a total of 40,000 people visited the event during four days.
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