Mississippi State's hybrid biodiesel Equinox wins Challenge X

Photo by Roy Feldman/Challenge X

The 2008 Challenge X is over and a hybrid clean diesel version of the Chevrolet Equinox (running on B20) has driven away with the top prize. Mississippi State University is the team behind the winning vehicle, and beat out 16 other student teams from across North America. As we learned when we rode in Michigan Technological University's hybrid Equinox last month, Challenge X is a multi-year challenge to modify an Equinox to get more miles per gallon while not giving up any comfort or performance. Teams tried all sorts of alternative power options to make the SUVs cleaner, and the MSU team designed a through-the-road parallel hybrid electric system paired with a turbocharged direct-injection diesel engine (filled with biodiesel) to get a 38 percent efficiency gain and the win, Science Daily reports. The University of Wisconsin – Madison and Ohio State University came in second and third place, respectively, with similar powertrains. The Diesel Technology Forum was happy to read about the diesels' standings in the final result and issued a press release praising the winners. Read it after the jump.

What's next? This fall, the Department of Energy (DOE), GM and Natural Resources Canada will open up EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge. Once again, 17 teams will take part but the vehicles due for eco-updates will be Saturn VUEs.

Press Release:

Clean Diesel Wins Future Car, National Engineering Challenge X

WASHINGTON, May 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Clean diesel technology powered the top three winning vehicles and 12 of 17 entries overall in a national engineering competition known as Challenge X to design the green cars of the future.

"Today we have a glimpse of the leading technologies that will power our future cars, trucks and SUVs, and it's no surprise that the winner was a clean diesel engine running on renewable biofuels, coupled with a hybrid powertrain," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. "Challenge X demonstrates that, thanks to its energy efficiency and low CO2 emissions, clean diesel will play a far greater role in reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the years ahead. Over the next 16 months, more than a dozen new clean diesel vehicles will be available to consumers."

Seventeen universities fielded engineering teams to design a car that runs on smaller amounts of fuel made from renewable resources. Each team reconfigured a Chevrolet Equinox sport utility vehicle using hybrid, plug-in or fuel cell technology and alternative fuels sources such as biodiesel, ethanol and hydrogen. Twelve of the teams used diesel as part of their technology solution.

General Motors, the U.S. Department of Energy and others sponsored the competition, whose winner was announced today at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The idea is to train a new generation of engineers interested in finding cleaner, more efficient, less expensive vehicles.

Diesel cars, trucks and SUVs provide 20 to 40 percent better mileage and emit 10 to 20 percent fewer greenhouse gases than comparable gasoline vehicles. In addition to superior fuel economy and reduced emissions, American drivers who purchase cleaner-burning diesel cars, trucks and SUVs are eligible for similar tax incentives as purchasers of gasoline-hybrid electric vehicles.

The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the economic importance and environmental progress of diesel engines and equipment. Forum members represent the three parts of the modern clean diesel system: advanced engines, cleaner diesel fuel and effective emissions control systems. For more information, including a list of diesel vehicles available for sale in the U.S. and links to diesel fuel locators, visit www.dieselforum.org.

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[Source: Science Daily, Diesel Technology Forum]

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