This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

June 14, 2006

Virginia Tech Takes Top Honors in Challenge X Competition

Photo of an SUV festooned with sponsor stickers and towing a small trailer on a highway.

The Virginia Tech team takes to the road.
Credit: Roy Felman/Challenge X

A team of students from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has won the second annual competition in Challenge X, a three-year competition to improve the fuel efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of a 2005 Chevrolet Equinox. The Virginia Tech team developed and built a hybrid version of the Equinox that uses two electric motors and runs on E85, a fuel blend containing 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The Virginia Tech vehicle also exhibited the best braking and handling, the lowest tailpipe emissions, and the lowest petroleum usage. DOE and the General Motors Corporation are the lead sponsors for Challenge X, in which 17 teams of North American engineering students are participating. See the Challenge X press release (PDF 31 KB) and the full competition results on the Challenge X Web site. Download Adobe Reader.

Like Virginia Tech, most of the teams in this year's competition used a combination of hybrid technology and alternative fuels, filling their tanks with E85, B20 (a diesel blend containing 20 percent biodiesel), or hydrogen. Deviating from the pack was the University of Waterloo, which employed a hydrogen fuel cell. While Virginia Tech and most other teams drew on a nickel-metal-hydride battery pack (the same type used in today's hybrids) for their power supplies, the University of Akron also added ultracapacitors, and West Virginia University's power supply came from ultracapacitors alone. Two teams employed lithium-ion battery packs, while the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor forsook electrical storage, and instead employed a hydraulic system to store the vehicle's mechanical energy. See the list of technologies used by each team (PDF 22 KB) on the Challenge X Web site.