Tech students offer fuel solutions
By Katie Merx
Detroit Free Press
June 8, 2007
Sick of paying $40 or more to fill up your tank? Worried about global warming? If so, you might be interested in the advanced drive systems that student engineers showed off in downtown Detroit on Thursday.
As gas prices remain above $3 a gallon, teams of college students involved in the Challenge X automotive engineering competition used a variety of advanced propulsion technologies. Their goal was to increase fuel efficiency and make vehicles more environmentally friendly without sacrificing their appeal to consumers.
The propulsion systems aren't planned for production right away, but top engineers from General Motors Corp. and the U.S. Department of Energy said the students' work could influence future product decisions, help address concerns about the nation's dependence on foreign oil and limit the emissions believed to cause global warming.
"I think the work these young people are doing is going to help solve our energy problems," said John Mizroch, a deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Energy. The teams, which assembled at GM's world headquarters in the Renaissance Center, built systems to adapt Chevrolet Equinox SUVs to use a variety of alternative fuels. For the competition, the teams were graded not only on environmental impact, but also on traditional consumer considerations, including acceleration, ride and handling and towing capability.