With Gas Prices Nearing $4 a Gallon

HOUSTON, April 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — As energy demand continues to increase
along with gasoline prices, students from Mater Dei High School in Evansville,
Ind., demonstrated just how fuel-efficient vehicles can become with the help of
innovative design and a lot of hard work. Their entry in the sixth annual Shell
Eco-marathon Americas achieved an impressive best run of 2,188 miles per gallon
in the Prototype class. Mater Dei also achieved the highest mileage, 611 mpg, in
the UrbanConcept class with “George,” a vehicle modeled after George Jetson’s
cartoon flying car.

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More than 1,000 high school and university students designed and built 113
vehicles to compete in two types of vehicle classes: Prototype and UrbanConcept.
The goal? To build a vehicle that could go the farthest using the least amount
of energy through the streets of downtown Houston. It was the third year the
competition took place in the energy capital of the world, continuing to offer
student teams an urban setting in which to stretch the boundaries of fuel
efficiency. Shell Eco-marathon also occurs in Europe and Asia, involving
thousands of students from more than 40 countries.

Mater Dei High School has competed at Shell Eco-marathon since the challenge
began in the Americas six years ago. The phenomenal mileage achieved by the
team’s latest Prototype vehicle did not come easy though – the electrical
starter for their vehicle malfunctioned upon arrival in Houston, requiring the
team to track down a manual starter to replace the problematic mechanism.

“The 2012 competition once again illuminates how much farther we can go to make
real headway in the energy challenge facing our planet,” said Shell Eco-marathon
Global Manager Mark Singer. “What the talented teams competing this year showed
us were the wide array of smart options available. We’re proud that Shell
Eco-marathon is part of the greater fuel efficiency solution.”

Prototype vehicles are typically smaller in size and more futuristic-looking,
with the overall design concept to reduce drag and maximize efficiency. Vehicles
in this class are one-seater, built with three or four wheels and have an
opened- or closed-top driver compartment. In the UrbanConcept class, teams
design and build 4-wheeled fuel-economy vehicles that look similar to the
passenger cars we see on the road today. In addition to meeting specific height,
width, length and weight criteria, the UrbanConcept vehicles must be capable of
driving in light, wet weather conditions.

For both vehicle classes, teams can use either internal combustion or e-mobility
energy sources, which include diesel, gasoline, ethanol, FAME, solar, hydrogen
and battery electric technologies.

Highlights of Weekend Competition

Bamboo Makes Two Cars Stand Out

Bamboo was a newly prominent resource used at this year’s competition. Two
schools, Westside High School from Houston and Stevens Institute of Technology
from Hoboken, N.J., constructed their respective cars using bamboo. Both schools
did an extensive amount of research and found bamboo to be strong and hold up
easily under stress.

This was the second year the team from Houston’s Westside High School competed
in Shell Eco-marathon Americas, and after last year, they wanted to stand out in
some way. Seeing bikes made from bamboo inspired the team to remake last year’s
model with bamboo, and they also replaced the gasoline engine with an electric
battery. Last year, their metal-framed car was the lightest vehicle, and the
accessories on this year’s bamboo vehicle make it roughly the same weight.

Another Year, Another Cedarville U Vehicle

The team from Ohio’s Cedarville University brought a third vehicle to Houston’s
streets, and it was the first time this team competed in the UrbanConcept class.
Cedarville faculty advisor Dr. Lawrence Zavodney nicknamed the vehicle “Urbie” -
short for UrbanConcept.

Aron Flaming, a senior at Cedarville University, noted the vehicle’s hybrid
system. “The vehicle’s electric motor is always running, so the driver only has
to start and stop the internal combustion engine one to two times while out on
the track.”

In addition to the motor, other design elements made Cedarville University’s
UrbanConcept vehicle fuel-efficient. Flaming designed the chassis – the frame
that holds everything together – to reduce the amount of drag, which requires
additional energy to push the vehicle forward.

Washers and Duct Tape

University of Houston student Julio Cornejo, a senior mechanical engineering
major, and his team brought one UrbanConcept vehicle to Shell Eco-marathon
Americas 2012. One of the challenges they faced this year was getting their
vehicle under the 450-pound (204 kg) weight limit. The team’s running joke was
that if they removed all of the washers used on their vehicle, it would drop 50
pounds.

“We use washers for everything. If there’s a problem we need to fix, we add a
washer. If there’s an extra space we need to fill, we add a washer. Just as duct
tape holds the world together, washers hold our vehicle together.”

Brazil Students Compete at Shell Eco-marathon Americas for the First Time

With teams from Canada to Brazil, this year’s event truly proved a competition
for the Americas. It was the first Shell Eco-marathon Americas experience for
each student in the four teams from Brazil.

The UNIOESTE team from Brazil is no stranger to super-mileage challenges and has
been competing since 2009. Last December, the team decided to participate in the
event with a new vehicle. With only a couple of months to seek grants and
donations, the team shipped its car in February to ensure it arrived in Houston
in time for the challenge. After competing in this year’s event, it’s their
dream to come back next year, but with more cars and in a more cost-effective
way.

Teams Face a Heavy Issue: Weight

Weight – always important in a competition, whether Shell Eco-marathon or a
swimming match – played a part in several teams’ entries.

One of Penn State University’s vehicles rolled to the start line this year with
the same body as last year, but weighing about 140 pounds (64 kg) less. Penn
State Senior Erik Denlinger says his team cleaned out the “guts” of their
vehicle, getting rid of the diesel engine and associated components. “We decided
to power our vehicle with a battery this year to make it weigh less and achieve
greater fuel efficiency. It used to weigh about 380 pounds (172 kg) and it’s now
240 pounds (108 kg),” says Denlinger.

Meanwhile, Ashwaubenon High School of Green Bay, Wis., a first-time competitor,
headed straight for technical inspection with the squad’s Prototype vehicle,
XK8. The team didn’t factor in the vehicle weight requirements of Shell
Eco-marathon into the equation. During technical inspection, the team discovered
that their vehicle was nearly 40 pounds overweight. The team worked together to
find pieces from the vehicle they could afford to lose – including the top of
the car and some unnecessary brackets – in order to make the weight
requirements. After shedding the extra pounds, the team went through technical
inspections again – and this time the vehicle passed.

For a list of the first place winners in each category, please click here. For
more information on all 2012 events across the globe, schedule and official
rules, please visit the Shell Eco-marathon website at www.shell.com/ecomarathon,
or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/shell.

For event photos, click here. For video, click here.

About Shell Oil Company

Shell Oil Company is an affiliate of the Royal Dutch Shell plc, a global group
of energy and petrochemical companies with 93,000 employees in more than 90
countries. We deliver a diverse range of energy solutions and petrochemicals to
customers worldwide. These include transporting and trading oil and gas,
marketing natural gas, producing and selling fuel for ships and planes,
generating electricity and providing energy efficiency advice.

We also produce and sell petrochemical building blocks to industrial customers
globally, and we are investing in making renewable and lower-carbon energy
sources competitive for large-scale use. In the U.S., we operate in 50 states
and employ more than 20,000 people delivering energy in a responsible manner.

About Shell Eco-marathon
Shell Eco-marathon is a global program that challenges high school and college
student teams to design, build and test the most energy-efficient vehicles. With
annual events in the Americas, Europe and Asia, this innovation competition
pushes future scientists and engineers to travel the farthest distance using the
least amount of energy. Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2012 took place March 29 -
April 1, 2012 on the streets of downtown Houston, the energy capital of the
world. Visit www.shell.com/ecomarathon/americas to learn more about this
program.

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SOURCE Shell