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Day 2: Afternoon

Clad in thick overalls and lying fully horizontal in a fibreglass box on wheels, the driver for Team Nanyang E from Singapore edges forward on the tarmac. Temperatures are hitting around 86°F (30°C) and sun beats through the car’s windscreen.

“He’ll be fine,” says team engineer Riely Wijaya. “We’re using a duct system that will let in air to cool him down once the car moves.”

This car’s zebra stripes should help keep its driver cool

This car’s zebra stripes should help keep its driver cool

An early start

Zhao Kexia certainly felt the heat – but it was worth it. Zhao from Team Zeal Eco-power, Tongji University, China, was one of the few drivers in the Prototype competition to have completed the required 10 laps by mid-afternoon.  She clocked the equivalent of 717.6 km/l in her diesel-powered car.

“I’m still hot now!” she said, back in the team’s cool booth.

They were topped by a car from the same university, which recorded an official distance of 864.2 km/l in the petrol class.

Going even further was the driver from Panjavidhya Technological College Thailand, with 1,494.0 km/l equivalent on ethanol. Team KUTY from Korea also recorded an attempt, but will hope to improve on their petrol-fuelled 88.1 km/l equivalent.

All the range

All teams are competing in either the Prototype category, focused on energy efficiency, or in UrbanConcept, with cars that meet everyday driver needs. In each category they choose to run on battery electric, diesel, ethanol, fatty acid methyl ester (FAME), petrol, gas-to-liquid (GTL) or hydrogen.

“It’s a great chance to test alternative fuels,” says Muhammad Firdaus Bin Mohd Yusoff from Team Iterbo 3. “The world needs cleaner energy.”

His team’s UrbanConcept car runs on battery electric and, at his university campus in Singapore there is already a charging station for electric cars – including the one driven by his principal.

Classic craftsmanship meets advanced technology

Classic craftsmanship meets advanced technology

Eye-catching designs

Students must consider every tiny detail to design a winning car, inside and out. Under the windscreen wiper of a black-and-white striped car a note reads: “Please handle with care, this zebra is easily scared.” Team USM EVT from Malaysia chose zebra print on their battery electric UrbanConcept vehicle for more than aesthetical reasons.

“The heat transfer between the white and black helps keep the car cool,” says team member Jeff Quek.

Looks can be deceptive: what seems to be an energy-guzzling sports car is a hyper-efficient battery electric UrbanConcept. Team SVSB Automaxx from Brunei was inspired by the Hot Wheels miniature car that now rests on their dashboard. “Luxury” features include a fan built into the car’s side and proper door handles.

Bursting with energy

A few dozen metres from the track, a white-masked mime artist welcomes visitors into the Shell Energy Lab. In the cool, dark entrance a globe projection reveals facts about the future of energy, water and food.

Beyond that and the airy marquee is filled with the shouts and laughter of visitors generating energy on a dancefloor and in giant spheres. Others watch a 3D animation about Shell’s deep-water project in Malampaya, which opened up the Philippines’ resources of natural gas, the cleanest-burning fossil fuel.

“The project has the longest pipeline in the world!” says student Jose Revale.

Shell Eco-marathon students will need all the energy than can muster going into the weekend as competition intensifies.