SHAKOPEE -- Demonstrating the power of teamwork, knowledge and persistence, students from Minnesota and beyond gathered May 16 and 17 in Brainerd to participate in the Ethanol Super Mileage Challenge. To compete in the event, student teams constructed super-efficient, ultra-light, one-person vehicles, which they drove on at the Colonel's Brainerd International Raceway. Winners were awarded in three categories based not on highest speed but on best fuel efficiency.
The event requires students to start with a single-cylinder, 3.5 horsepower, four-stroke Briggs and Stratton cycle engine. Using that, students are free to build their own fuel-efficient vehicles.
Although contest rules specify that at least three wheels must touch the ground at all times, vehicle length, width and height are not regulated. As a result, vehicles of all shapes and sizes are brought to the Raceway for the competition.
The Ethanol Super Mileage Challenge provides a way to increase student and public awareness in the area of ethanol performance and fuel economy. The event also gives students practical experience in vehicle concept, design, fabrication and testing.
A team from Pillager High School made a top run of 204.2 miles per gallon in the stock division at the Ethanol Super Mileage Challenge.
Mileage from the ethanol-blended fuel is very high, as evidenced by the winning teams in each division: In the stock division, students from Roseau Community School achieved a top run of 522.21 miles per gallon.
In the modified division, a team from St. Thomas Academy of St. Paul achieved a top run of 1322.36 miles per gallon. In the E-85 division, which used fuel blended with 85 percent ethanol, a team from Chippewa Middle School achieved a top run of 649.77 miles per gallon.
"This was one of the most successful years ever in many ways," said Keith Anderson, the event coordinator and a teacher in the Mounds View School District. "The teams had fewer mechanical breakdowns and the fuel efficiency average was way up. The kids really had it together this year. They are building dependable, efficient vehicles."
The Ethanol Super Mileage Challenge is coordinated each year by the Minnesota Technical Educators Association (MTEA) and is sponsored in part by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.
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