Mississippi State University Wins the Challenge X Competition
May 21, 2008
DOE declared Mississippi State University (MSU) the winner of the Challenge X competition on May 21. The 4-year competition, sponsored by DOE and General Motors Corporation (GM), challenged 17 university teams from across the United States and Canada to re-engineer a Chevrolet Equinox SUV to achieve high fuel economy and low emissions. The MSU team designed a hybrid electric vehicle using a turbocharged direct-injection diesel engine fueled with B20, a diesel fuel blend containing 20% biodiesel. The vehicle is a "through-the-road parallel hybrid," which means that both the engine and the electric motor directly drive the wheels, but they accomplish that by being mounted on separate axles, rather than being integrated together, so the only mechanical connection between the two drive trains is through the road. The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM) and Ohio State University (OSU) took second and third place using similar configurations. To learn more about these technologies, see DOE's Vehicle Technologies Program.
During this year's final event, the student teams competed in 12 events over the course of 8 days, and their vehicle had to pass assessments of on-road emissions, drivability, performance, and consumer acceptability. The MSU team performed well on all counts, outperforming the original Equinox SUV with a 38% increase in energy efficiency, a 44% reduction in well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions, and a quarter-mile acceleration performance that was 1.6 seconds faster. DOE's Argonne National Laboratory provided competition management, team evaluation, and logistical support during the event. See the Challenge X Web site.
DOE has also named the teams that will compete in the EcoCAR competition, which is the successor to the Challenge X. The new competition focuses on advanced propulsion technologies to meet the zero emissions vehicle regulations set by the California Air Resources Board, but it also includes the use of improved aerodynamics, lightweight materials, and clean alternative fuels. Along with three teams from Canada—the Ontario Institute of Technology, the University of Victoria, and the University of Waterloo—the team roster includes 14 U.S. teams: Howard University (located in Washington, D.C.), Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (located in Daytona Beach, Florida), Georgia Tech, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (located in Terre Haute, Indiana), Michigan Technological University, MSU, the Missouri University of Science and Technology, North Carolina State University, OSU, Pennsylvania State University, Texas Tech University, Virginia Tech, West Virginia University, and UWM. See the DOE press release, the GM press release, and the EcoCAR Web site.