UVic sustainability goes the distance

- Maria Lironi

Imagine owning a car that could travel more than 1,208 km on a single litre of fuel—roughly the distance from Vancouver to Jasper and back again.

The H2Drive team—comprised of nine UVic engineering students—is building a vehicle to do just that at the Shell Eco-marathon Americas in California, April 15–18. Each year, the Eco-marathon showcases a line-up of futuristic, eco-friendly vehicles competing for a grand prize of $5,000 in either the Prototype or Urban Concept categories by traveling the farthest distance on the least amount of fuel. The car, with a maximum weight of 140 kg (without the driver), has to complete seven laps at a minimum average speed of 24 km/hour.

UVic’s entry is the first Canadian fuel cell vehicle to compete at the event. It will drive alongside other fuel cell cars as well as internal combustion and solar cell cars designed by high school and post-secondary students from Canada, the US, Mexico, South America and India. This year will see four Canadian universities competing in the Eco-marathon: UVic, UBC, Laval and Dalhousie.

The fuel efficiency of contemporary vehicles sold today ranges from 12.76 to 17.01 kilometres per litre (30 to 40 miles per US gallon). The UVic H2Drive car would have at least 10 times the best fuel efficiency of today’s modern vehicles. UVic’s H2Drive vehicle is a three-wheeled, single occupant racecar. It is powered by twin hydrogen proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells and uses a hub motor that is part of a rear wheel assembly to reduce the number of moving parts.

The team was founded by students in UVic’s Integrated Energy Systems (IESVic) laboratory to demonstrate the viability of fuel cell powered vehicles. This project has been supported financially primarily by Hydrogen Highways, UVic’s Faculty of Engineering, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Shell Canada.

Further info: www.me.uvic.ca/~h2drive/ and www.shell.com/us/ecomarathon

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Keywords: uvic, sustainability, moves

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