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Supermileage vehicle is all about the mpg, not the mph

Posted June 6, 2013
BYU's supermileage vehicle is hoping to drive more than 1500 mpg at the SAE competition this week.

BYU’s supermileage vehicle is hoping to drive more than 1500 mpg at the SAE competition this week.

For most people, having a car that can clock 50 miles per gallon is a dream. For a group of BYU engineering students, anything less than 1,000 mpg is a disappointment.

The students have built a car that needs only one gallon of fuel to travel roughly the distance from Utah to Michigan, which just happens to be the place they’ll be this weekend for the SAE Supermileage Competition.

The annual event determines which university has created the most fuel-efficient vehicle in North America.

“It comes down to the smallest little details on race day,” said Gary Ellingson, one of seven engineering majors who built the car. “At the end of the day, it’s the team with the best run.”

During the competition, every team is given about 20 grams of fuel to race around a 10-mile track. Each car has to average 15 miles per hour during the run, and then afterwards the fuel tank is re-measured to see how much fuel was used. Judges then deduce the mpg capability based on the leftover fuel.

To maximize fuel efficiency, the BYU team added ceramic insulation to the lawn-mower engine they were required to start with, and then increased the 8-to-1 engine compression ratio to 14-to-1.They also made the engine fuel injected and modified it to be electronically controlled.


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