Life + Arts

Students create shock waves at competition

The UH American Institute of Chemical Engineers team placed second this past weekend at the AICE Southwest Regional Conference held at Texas A&M. They also finished first in the poster competition for a display of information about the cars that each team builds.

“The car ran on a zinc and oxygen battery,” said Chem-E Car team captain Walter Brata. “This is the same as the battery used inside a hearing aid, but scaled up. The electricity generated from the battery runs a motor.”

Each team is required to build a car that runs on a chemically-based system. The system allows the cars to travel between 50 and 100 feet, carry between 0 and 500 milliliters of water and fit into a shoe box.

Each car from the six competing schools was required to travel 65 feet in only two minutes, carrying 400 milliliters of water.

The UH Chem-E Car Team’s vehicle was powered by electricity, earning the nickname “The Shocker.”

“It started off as kind of an inside joke among the team,” team member Tanya Rogers said. “While building the car, we would jokingly warn each other to be careful. It’s so powerful and strong it will shock you; the name just happened to stick.”

Each team was also required to make an informational poster about their vehicle. The UH AIChE team placed first in this competition. The team’s victories were not easily won, as all of the teams experienced problems before the run.

“We had to make a special request for ice to cool the freshly prepared lye solution for the battery, which is absolutely critical for the proper operation of the cell,” team member William Payne said.

“We received the ice only about five minutes before we had to make our run, so it was still a bit warm.”

Despite the complications they faced, the team still received second place. They will be traveling in June to the National American Institute of Chemical Engineers Conference to compete in Minneapolis, Minn.

“I’m most looking forward to winning,” Rogers said. “The team has been wonderful and worked exceptionally hard on developing this year’s car. I can’t wait to see our car defeat the nation’s best.”

Leave a Comment