Please check here often for updates on the Chem E Car project. Updates to this page should show up on the home page too.
Announcements and Updates
An improved chemical car design from the UTC chemical engineering student team secured a ninth-place finish and the award for “Best Inherent Design for Safety” at the national American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) competition.
“This year, we started with a completely new car. We placed third in a regional competition at Clemson University last spring, which qualified us for nationals. Since then, we’ve greatly improved on the car by perfecting the stopping mechanism. We changed some electrical aspects, and improved some safety features,” Brooke Washburn, UTC student and team treasurer, said.
The competition required the team build a shoebox-sized car that can travel a defined distance, fueled by a chemical reaction. This reaction is also required to stop at that distance, making the car closest to the finish line the winner.
“We power the car using a hydrogen fuel cell. We produce the hydrogen-off car on what we call the ‘gas master’ using recycled aluminum can tabs. We drop the can tabs down in the chamber and pour in a mixture of water and sodium hydroxide. This produces the hydrogen gas which is then purified and dried before it fills the tank on the car,” Washburn explained.
The team also took home the award for “Best Inherent Design for Safety” for successfully minimizing the risk of injury or accident in the car. The award is sponsored by The Safety and Chemical Engineering Education (SAChE) program.
“The team was very happy to find that we had won the safety award. Our professors always highlight the importance of safety in engineering design,” Washburn said.
For Washburn, who joined the team last year, the experience has been invaluable.
“Being involved in this project has been extremely rewarding. Obviously, it looks great on a resume, but more than that, it gives me insight to what I might experience in the professional world. In our classes, we discuss these principles, such as budget constraints and the team design process, but the project has allowed us to successfully use those principles to actually produce something,” she said.
In addition to Washburn, team members also included Ben Kegley, Sumner Welte, Jonathon Cain, Matt Pruit, and Jordan Hughes.
The Chem-E car a group of UTC students constructed may only be the size of a shoebox, but its small size didn’t keep the team from placing third overall at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) southern regional competition in Clemson, South Carolina. The team has qualified for a spot in the national competition, to be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in October.
“We finished ahead of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee Tech, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech, which is really impressive. We will be the only school from Tennessee at this year’s national competition,” Brooke Washburn, junior chemical engineering major and Chem-E Car team member, said.
AIChE hosts the annual competition. The goal of the contest is to design a Chem-E-Car, a car powered and stopped solely by a chemical reaction. The winner of the competition is based not on the speed or how far the car can go but how well the car is controlled. Minutes before the competition gets underway, the team is given a distance the car must travel and a water weight the vehicle must haul. The car that arrives closest to its assigned distance wins.
This year’s UTC entry, nicknamed Scrappy after the school’s mascot, is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. Hydrogen gas is produced from the car (at the Gas Master) by reacting aluminum can tabs with sodium hydroxide. The car is stopped by an iodine clock color change reaction. By varying chemical concentrations in the iodine clock, the team can control when the car stops.
The UTC team began developing design concepts in summer 2011, and the car was built within the $2,000 budget set by AIChE. The team was sponsored by BASF and Volkswagen, and travel expenses were offset by the UTC Student Government Association (SGA).
“Without the support of our sponsors and SGA, this project could not have been completed, and we would not have been able to compete at regionals,” Eric Snider, senior chemical engineering major, president of the student chapter of AIChE, and Chem-E Car co-captain, said.
The UTC team has six members: Sumner Welte, Brooke Washburn, Eric Snider, Ashley Poe, Ben Kegley and Jonathon Cain. The team is diversified with past members, new members, and all levels of college experience.
Dr. Tricia Thomas, UTC Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, is the team’s faculty advisor.
At UTC's CECS research and design showcase, our Chem E Car poster presentation finished first overall among all junior and senior entries from the college of engineering. The winner is chosen based on faculty and staff judges from the college. All prize money is going in our ever-growing national budget!
Students, faculty and alumni set up displays and gave presentations Wednesday in the UC Gallery and the Chattanooga rooms as part of Research Day 2012.
“There are robots here, original music competitions and there is a chemically-run car,” Baley Whary, organizer of the event, said. “Then we have people who are just showing all the work they are doing from all over campus.”
Ben Kegley, a Tullahoma, Tenn., sophomore, presented “Scrappy” and “The Gas Master,” two chemically-ran cars that placed third in a regional competition.
“How well you can control the car is what the competition is about,” Kegley said. “We go a certain distance, and you have to stop the closest to it.”
He said the team will compete nationally in October.
It was Kegley’s first year participating in Research Day.
Whary said she especially enjoys the research that deals with social issues.
“I hate to be biased, but my favorite thing is seeing people’s research that is socially aware,” she said. “One of them is about music lyrics that objectify men and women. One person did a research project about youth and their attitudes toward intimate partner abuse.”
She said research like these are relevant to the community.
Criminal Justice Graduate Student Katherine Ray presented her research on peer social support for physical dating violence in adolescent females.
Ray said peer support serves as protective factor against becoming a victim of dating violence.
“It’s actually a subpart of a bigger project,” Ray said. “It’s been since the beginning of the semester that I’ve been working on it.”
Ray said she did not have as many people come by her display as she hoped, but there was still a good number of people, and everybody seemed interested in her findings.
Graduate Student Rachel Burdette presented her research on football players’ foot sizes and shape in relation to how often they got injured throughout the season.
“We’ve got big guys who have gotten hamstring injuries, who play a lot, with flat feet,” Burdette said. “Those are our fourfactors.”
She said players with those factors are the ones with the most injuries.
“If you have three of those four factors, you are six times more likely to get injured,” she said.
Burdette, who is pursuing her masters in sports training, said this information can be used to prevent injuries.
“Once we know all of this stuff, for next season let’s look at those same factors and see if we can’t prevent some of these injuries from happening,” she said. “That’s kind of the key to a lot of the research that we’ve put out this year is that we do a lot of predictive modeling and then see what we can do about that to decrease the number of injuries.”
Burdette said she works with athletes at UTC and area high schools.
“I thought this was really interesting because one of the differences about athletic training as a profession is that we work on preventing injuries,” she said. “The more we can predict before hand, the more we can hopefully prevent in thefuture.”
Burdette said faculty, athletes, and the Provost came to her display to learn about her research.
Alexa McClellan of the Office of Partnerships and Sponsored Programs, said this was the largest Research Day UTChas had.
“We have the most poster presentations, and the most platform presentations that we’ve had in all four years, so that’s exciting,” she said. “A lot more foot traffic is coming through this year, which has been great.”
She said the increased participation is because of how many departments are getting involved.
“We have a large, diverse group of faculty presenting and departments representing,” she said.
Anna Steere, who also helped run the event, said prospective students touring campus Wednesday got to witness all the research going on at UTC.
Research Day 2012 was cosponsored by the graduate school, the Graduate Student Association, the Office for Partnerships and Sponsored Programs, the Office of the Provost and the University Honors Program.
Here is an article discussing BASF's contributions to our Chem E Car team. They were one of our main sponsors and we are extremely thankful for their contributions to our 2012 regional competitor and for their continued support as we prepare for nationals!
Links to the article:
I found this one odd:
We finished third place overall at the AIChE Southern Regional Competition at Clemson, SC on March 31st. As a result we have qualified for nationals!!
Here are the official results from clemson: http://caeff.ces.clemson.edu/aiche/awards.php (We did very good this year)
Yes, the car frame looks terrible and has not been designed at all but the fuel cell works very well, I would estimate it traversed 300 ft in 4 minutes and weighed at least 5-6 pounds.