TTU Chem-E-Car team wins national championship

The "Screaming Eagle" Chem-E-Car powered its way past all competitors to deliver a national championship to Tennessee Tech University, courtesy of a team of chemical engineering students.

To win the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' National Chem-E-Car title, the TTU team defeated 30 teams at the Cincinnati site, including second-place Oklahoma State University, Vanderbilt University, Virginia Tech, Berkeley, Ohio State and Penn State. The victory improved on TTU's second place finish in the previous competition.

"We knew it was going to be a tough competition," said TTU team member Regan Chandler. "This has been great. We learned so much about alternative fuels from this experience."

At a time when the United States is seeking alternative fuels, the Chem-E-Car competition has become an important venue for college students to use chemical reactions to power vehicles. The competition challenged chemical engineering students to test their classroom knowledge by building shoebox-sized cars powered by controlled chemical reactions. The small cars had to transport a payload a specified distance – and students didn’t learn until 60 minutes before the competition what that payload and distance were.

The "Screaming Eagle," powered by a zinc air fuel cell, best met the challenge to transport 300 milliliters of water 79 feet. The car came closer than any of its challengers, missing the mark by only one inch. It carried the water 78 feet 1 inch in 2 minutes.

"We were stunned," team member Braxton Sluder said. "We just stood there staring at the car for a minute, and then we jumped into the air."

Last year's team finished second after qualifying for the national championship for the first time. Those students predicted that this year's competition would be a time to shine.

Current team members include Jesse Cates, Regan Chandler, Ricardo Chang, Haley Hunter, Jason Miller, Jennifer Pascal, Jonathan Phillips, Robert Phillips, and Braxton Sluder.

The TTU team received $2,000 in prize money.
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