The Clarkson University Chem-E Car Team continued to build on their successful season in Pittsburgh, PA at the AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) 2018 Annual Meeting last month. The Clarkson team of undergraduate students placed 4th overall in a field of 40 teams from around the world. The team qualified for this international event by winning the U.S. Northeast Regional Chem E Car competition last April. Teams from ten countries participated.
The objective of Chem-E Car is to design and build a shoebox-sized car that is powered and stopped by chemical reactions. Throughout the year students from various disciplines collaborate to fabricate a car that can carry a maximum payload of 500 ml of water and travel any distance between 15 and 30 meters. The weight of the payload and the distance are randomly chosen one hour before the start of the competition. The goal is to stop exactly at the randomly chosen distance. The teams have 2 runs to get as close to the line as possible. Careful testing and calibration are key to landing directly on the mark.
The Clarkson car was powered by a custom student-built lead-acid battery which contained six lead-acid cells in series. The car is stopped using an iodine “clock” reaction where a clear solution turns black over the course of 65 – 70 seconds. The team designed electrical circuits to analyze this reaction and then stop the car at the calculated distance. At the National competition in Pittsburgh, the goal was to reach and stop at a distance of 25.3 meters while carrying a payload of 390 ml of water. Clarkson placed 4th in a field of 40 teams, stopping at a distance of 25.14 meters, only 16 centimeters short of the goal.
[Photo Caption: Rachel Adams ’20, Chemical Engineering, Endicott, NY Megan Carhart ’21, Chemistry and Biomolecular Science, Glenmont, NY, Alfred Worrad ’20, Chemical Engineering, Highland, NY, Ethan Hoefler ’19, Mechanical Engineering, Rochester, NY, Patrick O’Rourke ’19, Chemical Engineering, Hyde Park, NY, Josh Tanner ’19, Chemical Engineering, Oriskany, NY, Kyle Duell ’19, Chemical Engineering, Brockport, NY]