Chem-E-Car is a design team that provides undergraduates with an opportunity to learn chemical, mechanical, electrical, and programming skill sets. Our organization builds small, handheld cars powered and stopped by chemical reactions to compete in regional and national competitions hosted by AIChE. At the competition, a judge announces a distance and specifies a weight that the car must carry. The team whose car can get closest to the announced distance after two rounds wins the competition.
A successful Chem-E-Car requires a team that is chemically competent, capable of building mechanical/electrical systems, and eager to collaborate to build a fully functional car. To conquer these tasks, Chem-E-Car is broken down into two committees (Competition and Research) and each committee has 4 teams (Power, Stopping, Electrical, Mechanical). The teams on the competition committee focus on projects that will be implemented in the upcoming competition, while the research committee researches mechanisms to be used in future competitions.
About the Teams
For this year’s competition, the four teams came together and built the Pb-Racer which placed 5th in the southeast regional competition and 11th in nationals. The car is powered by a 24 V lead-acid battery and stopped by a potassium iodide clock. Next year’s competition requires either the power or stopping mechanism to be replaced. Currently, we are looking into using hydrogen fuel cells or a chameleon clock stopping mechanism for next year’s car.
As Chem-E-Car continues to take on more projects, our organization will continue to grow. Since last semester, Chem-E-Car has more than doubled its size and currently has 20 members. If you’re interested in learning more or getting involved, you can always reach out to us via email or find us on Facebook.
The Electrical Team builds a circuit which senses the color change of our stopping mechanism and toggles our power mechanism to stop. The electrical team members upload computer code to a microcontroller to coordinate the stopping and power mechanisms together.
The Mechanical Team builds the car itself. The car must travel a max distance of 30 meters and veering off course costs the team a 3-meter penalty. Keeping the car straight over such a long distance requires quality axels built by our mechanical team. They are also responsible for building containers to safely house the power, stopping, and electrical systems on the car.
The Power Team is tasked with designing a chemical reaction capable of propelling the Chem-E-Car. In this year’s competition, a 12-cell lead-acid battery supplied 24 V to the car. It was very fast and capable of carrying a large amount of weight. For next year’s car model, we are looking into hydrogen fuel cells.
The Stopping Team is tasked with creating time-sensitive reactions responsible for stopping the car. Desirable reactions change color or temperature at variable times. This year we used a potassium iodine clock, a reaction that changes a clear solution to a black solution in an instant. The amount of chemicals used in the reaction can vary the time it takes for the color change to occur.
Contact Info and Helpful Links
If you would like more information or if you have any questions please reach out to any of our members; their emails are listed in one of the above sections. Or you can use the official ChemE Car email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find us on social media! Just click the button below!