Mizzou Hydrogen Car Team to compete in Eco-Marathon

The group will compete against 14 other teams.

Two years of work for the Mizzou Hydrogen Car Team will culminate Thursday in a race fueled with both hydrogen and emotion.

From April 14 to 17, the team will compete in the annual Shell Eco-marathon race in Houston. The competition, which has taken place for more than 20 years, brings together 77 teams from around the globe to find out whose car can go the farthest distance with the lowest amount of energy.

According to a news release, MHCT will compete against 14 other teams in the urban concept category of the competition, which requires a four-wheeled vehicle fit for on-road use to race 10 laps around a track for a total of six miles.

The MU group competes annually and this year will enter its second-generation hydrogen-fueled vehicle, TigerGen II, into the race. The car raced last year but did not complete the race because of technical difficulties. It did, however, achieve 480 miles per gallon equivalent of gasoline.

“Last year, the car wasn’t quite completed,” MHCT spokeswoman Victoria Hezel said. “So, we were finishing it down at the race. Not being able to complete the race after all the hard work we put into it was tough and frustrating, but that’s why we’re going back this year. We’re hoping to complete it this year.”

Since then, the team has made significant changes, and Hezel is confident the car will improve its performance.

Hezel said the team is designing its third hydrogen car to race in next year’s competition.

MHCT President Jonathan Lavallee said it is great to meet people from all over the country and world at the competition.

“We were still working on final-minute things on our car last year, and other people came over and gave tips about what we’d been working on, like riveting the windows — stuff that we hadn’t thought of,” Lavallee said. “So it’s just nice to share information with other teams. Even though you’re competing against them, they still have a common goal.”

Hezel, who joined MHCT three years ago after seeing a flyer about the club, said the hands-on experience has been rewarding.

“Just working on a big project with a team, problem solving,” Hezel said. “In the classroom, a lot of times you’re working by yourself, but when you get to the real world, it will be mostly big projects.”

The club also participates in one to two events per month either on campus or in other cities around Missouri, where it showcases its car and teaches people about alternative fuel sources as a representative of the college of engineering.

“We like to use the term ‘fuel of the future,’” Lavellee said. “We think hydrogen definitely has some great possibilities and might sometime replace gasoline as a possible fuel.”

The team has 30 to 40 consistent members who show up to weekly meetings throughout the year. Fifteen members and a faculty adviser will attend the competition Thursday.

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