ISLAMABAD: Twenty teams across Pakistan are putting final touches to fuel-efficient vehicles to be entered into the Shell Eco- Marathon 2010 being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in July.
The rules are simple. Teams must produce futuristic cars that will travel the maximum distance in just one litre of fuel. Contestants say it is an “opportunity of a lifetime.” “I don’t want to study and just join the grind,” says 22-year-old Hamid Masood. “I want to create, develop and conserve. I want the theoretical knowledge I have attained to be put to good use.”
The determined University of Engineering and Technology student from Lahore feels he and his classmates can make a real difference. Their car Hataf, named after the sword of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was built with an investment of Rs30,000, a pool of their allowances. “This is a prototype, a car for the future, but if it was modified it can probably be sold commercially for around Rs80,000,” claimed Hafiz Wahab Ali, another member of the UET team.
Under the hood
The teams have adopted technology and design to ensure both speed and efficiency. National University of Science and Technology (NUST) students have developed what they call the first hybrid car in the country. The team, Pakwheelers, has installed a super capacitor in their car to store energy until the breaks are pressed when it will be regenerated. Faizan Zafar, 21, says “General Motors has developed a car with similar technology which it calls revolutionary.”
The UET team has taken a different approach. Their 50cc engine is fuelled by a ‘gravity fuel feed system’ which means instead of the fuel tank being parallel to the engine it is above it, ending the need for a pump as fuel now enters the engine through the pull of gravity. The Hataf also has ‘flow path nozzles’ on the sides of the tear drop-shaped body so that the car’s fuel is conserved and it is propelled by the backward thrust of air instead. Lahore-based Team Panache has developed a missing stroke system for their car.
This means the engine automatically turns off after the car reaches a speed of 40 kilometres per hour, allowing the vehicle to run on momentum. Omar Khan, 22, says the system is a safety measure as well as it guarantees no one can cross a set speed limit.
While contestants are excited they are also worried. Although Shell announced Friday it would bear the $3,300 each cost of transporting vehicles to Malaysia many students are still unable to bear travel costs. “We have worked so hard. It will be extremely disappointing if we couldn’t afford to go now,” say 22-year-old Jahanzaib. He says he has approached 200 companies for sponsorship so far, of which only two have responded leaving his team uncertain about whether their car will ever see the track or not.
A fibre-glass future
“When I wake up in the morning, all I want to do is grab a wrench and get to work,” says Jawad, 22, who dreams of creating a car with the aesthetics of a Bugati and the fuel efficiency of a Suzuki Mehran. His team’s 100-kilogram car named the “Kaar” was an important step in his goal. “We have learned management, how to win sponsors, how to deal with companies and how to allot funds,” he says.
The contestants say the marathon has helped them to expand their skills. “Last year we built a robot, the year before that an airplane and today a fuel-efficient car,” says Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Science and Technology student Ahmed Hussain, 21. “We are competing with the rest of the world for a good cause and we hope Pakistan wins.”