Houston, Texas – A student team from Laval University in Quebec topped more than 500 students from North and South America to win the 2009 Shell Eco-marathon Americas. The team took the grand prize in the “Prototype” division, with a vehicle that achieved 2,757.1 m.p.g. (1,172.2 km per litre).

Students from Mater Dei High School in Evansville, Illinois took the “Urban Concept” category, new to the Americas event this year, by achieving 433.3 m.p.g. (184.2 km/l).

The 44 participating teams included a number of returning teams, determined to beat the record of 2,483 m.p.g. (1,208 km/l) set by Mater Dei High School in 2008. The teams came from six high schools and 29 universities in Canada, Mexico, the U.S. and Brazil, along with a guest team from India.

Student teams participated in one of two categories. The Prototype category is for futuristic prototypes, focused on maximizing fuel efficiency through innovative design elements, such as drag reduction. For the Urban Concept category, teams entered more “roadworthy” fuel-efficient vehicles, aimed at meeting the real-life needs of drivers, and closer in appearance to cars seen on the roads today. For both categories, teams could use any conventionally-available energy source, including diesel, gasoline, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), hydrogen, biomass and solar.

The Laval University team won a grand prize of US$5,000 for its vehicle, which used a combustion engine. Other top entries were for a fuel cell/hydrogen vehicle by Penn State University, achieving 1,912.9 m.p.g. (813.2 km/l), and a solar power vehicle from Purdue University, achieving 4,913 m.p.g. (2,088.7 km/l).

Special awards including an “Eco-Design Award”, presented to UCLA for a Prototype entry that incorporated recycled and eco-friendly materials, and safety awards, which went to the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Grand Rapids Technical School and Loyola Marymount University, which demonstrated safety as a top priority in vehicle design and construction. Design awards, for outstanding initiative and technical ingenuity along with optimal use of new materials, went to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, second to Purdue University, and third to California Polytechnic State University, while a design award for ergonomics, aesthetics, choice of materials and technical feasibility went to Minas Gerais State University in Brazil.

A Canadian team from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia took the Communications award, which recognizes outstanding efforts concerning the marathon, including participation at trade shows, creation of a website, and all other activities that successfully promote the competition.

“Best Team Spirit” went to the George M. Schurr High School team in Montebello, California, who demonstrated initiative to learn more about other teams, and lent one of their vehicles to a team whose car wasn’t ready. The “Perseverance in the Face of Adversity Award” went to two teams, the Chitkara Institute of Engineering and Technology in India, who travelled to the U.S. to participate and battled many issues with their vehicles, and Louisiana State University, who overcame the death of a team member last year.

For more information, visit Ecomarathon.

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