Ethanol car wins fuel efficiency challenge

Car runs 6,786 miles per gallon, beating out hydrogen-powered vehicles at the Shell Eco-marathon in Europe. Racing at 6,786 miles per gallon

How far can you go on a tank of ethanol? Some students in France this weekend showed that the answer could be in the thousands of miles.

That is, of course, if you don't mind driving a car not much bigger than you are.

Eco-marathon

An ethanol-powered vehicle engineered by students from the Lycee La Joliverie took top honors at the Shell Eco-marathon, a contest to build a car that can drive as far as possible using the least amount of energy.

The vehicle averaged an astounding 2,885 kilometers per liter, or approximately 6,786 miles per gallon, according to an announcement released Sunday by race officials.

While the car did not break last year's record of 9,023 mpg, it was significant in that it was an ethanol-powered vehicle. Hydrogen-powered vehicles, which were predicted to win early on in the race, became runners-up.

The ESSTIN-Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy team, also from France, took second place with their hydrogen-powered vehicle, which traveled at 6,548 mpg. France's Polytech Nantes-La Joliverie took third place, with 6,421 mpg. Another hydrogen-powered car, entered by the German Hochschule Offenburg team, came in at No. 4 with 6,148 mpg.

This year's Shell Eco-marathon took place on the Nogaro circuit in southwest France. More than 3,000 students, representing 250 European educational institutions, participated in the event. Eight teams managed to break the 4,704 mpg barrier.

Other awards were distributed for design. The Eco-Design award, which takes into account the materials and energy used to produce a car, went to the ENSIETA (Ecole Nationale Supereure d'Ingenieurs) Brest team for its bamboo-and-metal chassis, covered in paper.

The Lycee Gustave Eiffel de Talange team won first place in the Social/Hospitality Award category. The high-school students chose to tackle the subject of sexually transmitted disease by linking car safety and sexual safety with their condom-shaped vehicle.

The race, which aims to raise energy awareness, is also under the patronage of European Union Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

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