DEKALB (WREX) — A group of students at Northern Illinois University won an international competition earlier this April.
The NIU Supermileage team participated in the Shell Eco-Marathon competition April 3-6 in California. The students design, build and drive single-occupant, ultra-fuel-efficient vehicles in an effort to create the most energy-efficient car.
The gasoline-fueled vehicle the Supermileage team created achieved 1,525 miles per gallon, which is about the distance from DeKalb to California.
NIU’s Supermileage team earned first place in the Internal Combustion Engine Prototype category, the team’s best placement in its 10 years of existence at NIU.
“I honestly didn’t believe it for the first three hours,” said Josh Helsper, the Supermileage team president. “I still felt like someone was going to come up and tell me someone else actually won. We were all in shock.”
Drivers must keep their average speed at about 15 miles per hour, starting the engine, speeding up to more than 20 miles per hour and then coasting down to below 10 miles per hour before starting the engine again. On a track about three-quarters of a mile long, they must complete eight laps. They top off the fuel tank at the start, then fuel it back up at the end to precisely measure how much fuel was used.
NIU’s team faced off against 27 other teams across the world.