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Hot Wheels

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Thirty teams compete in Dartmouth's hybrid racecar competition

Thayer School of Engineering hosted the third-annual Formula Hybrid International Competition-a collegiate engineering contest that embraces clean technologies and design in automotive racing-at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., from May 4 through 6. Thirty teams representing five countries convened to see who had designed and built the best hybrid-powered formula-style racecar.

As VOX of Dartmouth went to press, the Thayer team was second in Presentation, second in Acceleration (Electric), and fourth in Acceleration (Unrestricted). To view final results and more images, click here .

erik bell

Erik Bell '08, Thayer B.E./M.S. candidate, aligns a new tube to add to the frame of Dartmouth's 2009 Formula Hybrid racecar. (Photo courtesy Thayer School of Engineering)

Prior to the race, VOX spoke with Formula Hybrid Team Advisor John Collier, the Myron Tribus Professor of Engineering Innovation.

What Formula Hybrid principles can be applied to consumer hybrid automobile development?

"The concept that a small engine can deliver excellent acceleration through the use of energy storage. Some modern hybrids such as the Prius have very high-tech systems. Those are more sophisticated than many of these student-designed and built cars. But the competitors will be in excellent positions to continue the modern vehicle development after they graduate."

Why has this event become so popular?

"The cars are more technically interesting than gasoline- or ethanol-powered vehicles. Building a hybrid vehicle requires expertise in electrical energy generation and control, electrical energy storage, and electric motor drive systems-in addition to the internal combustion engine."

What new technologies from the competition might we someday see in mass-produced vehicles?

"Dartmouth uses capacitors rather than batteries to store energy. Most of the current production vehicles use batteries, but the benefits of capacitors include the capability for very rapid recharging and discharging."

By SARAH MAXELL CROSBY '04

Last Updated: 5/13/09