It is expected that the world will encounter an energy crisis in the very near future. With the innovation of energy-efficient vehicles, the crisis might be eased somewhat.
Representatives of the teams who will be participating in ‘Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2010’ in Malaysia next week are joined by their coach, second from left. Holding the microphone is Shell Company of Thailand’s chairperson Pissawan Achanapornkul. PURICH TRIVITAYAKHUN
Next week, 13 teams of students from Thailand will be showcasing their technological inventions at "Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2010" in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The competition will be held from July 8 to 10, and 84 teams from 11 countries will be taking part. It will be the first time that a Shell Eco-marathon is held in Asia.
Contestants are required to devise three- or four-wheeled energy-efficient vehicles that can travel long distances using the least amount of a free choice of fuel. Participants may choose from commonly-used fuels like gasoline, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and gasohol or from other sources of alternative energy, like hydrogen and solar energy.
The competition is divided into two categories: Futuristic prototypes, which are less-restrictive, free-design vehicles with minimum drag and maximum efficiency; and Urban Concept vehicles, designs that can be applied in real life in a city environment.
According to Pissawan Achanapornkul, country chairperson of Shell Company of Thailand, the competition aims to serve as a platform for students to showcase their innovative ideas on vehicle invention and energy technologies as well as to raise awareness of energy efficiency among all sectors and to encourage collaboration to find sustainable solutions to energy problems.
"We also would like to see students share their experiences with their peers and upcoming generations to promote attention on sustainable energy usage," the chairperson added.
The 13 participating teams range from master's-degree to high-school students.
Filled with confidence, the "ThaiGER 2010" team from the School of Renewable Energy Technology at Naresuan University, some of whose members participated in Shell Eco-marathon Europe in Germany last year, has developed a lightweight aluminium hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle to compete in the Futuristic prototypes category.
Kongrit Mansiri, a team member, said that the concept of his group's car is a futuristic, environmentally friendly car with zero emission.
At the German contest, the "ThaiGER" team's entry covered 1,050km on a quantity of hydrogen equivalent to one litre of fuel. Kongrit said that their latest vehicle is able to travel 1,500km on the same amount of that fuel.
"We aim to be among the top 20 teams," he said. At this year's Shell Eco-marathon Europe, a team from Polytech Nantes from France won the race by accomplishing 4,896km burning a volume of hydrogen that was equivalent to one litre of fuel.
Ready to start
Jirawat Prajit, a Mathayom 5 (Grade 11) student in the high-school-level "Horwang Non" team from Nawamintharachinutid Horwang Nonthaburi School, said that he and his colleagues expect their benzine-powered automobile to achieve at least 1,000km per litre of fuel.
"Victory is a secondary objective. The most important benefit is that we can work with our peers and seniors, which will enable us to gain new experience and knowledge," said Jirawat. His team has signed up their 50cc Honda-engined car in the Futuristic prototypes category.
The "KU Racing" team, from Kasetsart University (KU), will compete in the Urban Concept category. Apisit Bangkerd, an engineering student at KU, said that his team intends to invent a vehicle that will imitate a conventional car as much as possible, one that can ultimately be driven around every day.
His team's compact classic car-like four-wheeled vehicle is powered by an LPG Honda 125cc engine. On trials, the car scored about 20km per litre of fuel.
"We may not be able to compete against other teams that use a hydrogen fuel cell to optimise distance figures. However we are confident of our safety system," Apisit said.
The record in the Urban Concept category belongs to a team from The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, whose craft achieved 747.2km per litre of fuel, using a fuel cell, in the European competition earlier this year.
Schools that are fielding one team each are Ban Phuruag School and Nongree Prachanimit School, Banharn-Jamsai Polytechnic College Suphan Buri, Don Muang Technical College, King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Lat Krabang, Kong Thabbok Upatham Changkol Khor Sor Thor Bor School, Lampang Rajabhat University, North-Chiang Mai University, Panjavidhya Technical Training School, Phatthalung Technical College and Sakon Nakhon Technical College.
More information about Shell Eco-Marathon Asia 2010 is available on the website http://www.shell.com/home/content/ecomarathon/asia/.