The Shell Eco-Marathon is a competition in which vehicles take fuel consumption to the extreme - During one of its races, a japanese team, "Fancy Carol" set the current world record of 11,195 Miles Per Gallon (MPG). Compare that to up to 60 MPG in very efficient diesel passenger cars, or as little as 8 MPG in high-powered sportscars.
The Shell Eco-Marathon's history stretches back over fifty years. A group of Shell scientists based in a research laboratory in Illinois, USA, had a friendly bet to see who could drive their own car furthest on one gallon of fuel. Although they 'only' achieved 50 miles per gallon, it was the foundation of today's prestigious international event.
The first competition was held in Mallory Park in the UK in 1977.
The best designs consider aspects of aerodynamics, rolling resistance, engine efficiency and driving techniques to achieve the highest fuel economy and each year the teams demonstrate creativity and innovation to make the leap required to improve their performance. The current top teams use specially mixed fuels, specially designed tyres and wheels, and children as young as 11 years old to drive the vehicles, in efforts to keep the weight down.
The vehicles used in the current Eco-Marathon challenges use as cutting-edge technology as your average Formula One car or space shuttle. But instead of going fast, these vehicles rarely reach 30 mph - but at tremendous efficiency.
When participating in the Eco-Marathon, vehicles participate in three different classes: Unleaded petrol, Diesel and LPG. During the competition, cars have to keep an average speed of at least 15 mph over a distance of 10 miles. At the end of the course, the amount of fuel used is measured, and subsequently the MPG is measured - which will give us the scoreboard.
Over the past 30 years, fuel economy has improved dramatically. With current efficiency, Shell takes great pleasure in pointing out that with the current efficiency, "it would be possible for the winning Shell Eco-Marathon UK car to travel three times around the equator on the same amount of fuel that Concorde needed to reach the end of the runway."
For more information, see http://www.shelleco-marathon.com
originally written for askaprice.com