What happens when a group of college students collide with a bunch of corn farmers? The results are an innovative race car that runs on fuel made from corn!
For the second year, Colorado Corn Administrative Committee sponsored the University of Colorado-Denver’s Lynx Motorsports race team with their ethanol powered car. Over a dozen students from the college of Mechanical Engineering worked on the design and mechanics of the car. From the engine to the brakes, and from the timing to the fuel injection, months were spent building a race car. A few members from the team even attended a special mechanics event featuring guest speaker Dr. Andy Randolph, a world renowned combustion engine expert.
The pinnacle of the team’s efforts comes in the form of a spirited annual competition between other college teams. SAE International took place last week in Lincoln, Nebraska June 20-23, 2018. Teams receive points for the overall cost of their car, a business presentation they deliver, the car’s design, and their performance in several dynamic events. These included a 75 meter drag acceleration, an autocross event, and an endurance race. The majority of points come from the endurance race event which is a twenty-six lap race.
Team Member Matt Ten Eyck said “The team is proud to have a competition ready car. We are equally proud our car passed a rigorous technical inspection given by SAE officials. And, our car successfully completed the endurance race, a race in which half the cars did not finish.”
When asked about their fuel choice for racing Matt replied, “The best part about using E85 is the fact that it is more economical than other high octane fuels and readily available at many stations. This helps us as we can easily fuel the car for testing without having to go to an obscure shop on the other side of town. The lower cost helps us preserve our team’s funds and instead spend that money on parts and instrumentation for the car.”
E85 is a high-octane fuel making it desired by many racing teams. E85 is also a cleaner burning fuel. Aside from the power and environmental benefits, as Matt pointed out, ethanol also allows for a cost savings compared to 100+ octane unleaded fuel. 100+ octane unleaded fuel costs roughly $5.00 more per gallon than E85.
As the team looks towards next year’s competition Matt commented, “Formula SAE is an amazing competition and we enjoy the challenges and learning opportunities that it provides. Work will continue this summer and we plan on showing up next year with an even stronger car!”