Forget 100 miles per gallon, the Binghamton University super mileage car could get 15 times that. The car runs on just less than two horsepower and as our Neil St. Clair discovered, it is a precise melding of theory, design and execution.
ENDICOTT, N.Y. -- This is the Binghamton University super-mileage competition car and on just one gallon of gas, it will take you from Boston to Miami, a distance of around 1,500 miles.
"Actually, it started on the back of a napkin like many engineering projects do," said Andrew Gleason, a BU senior in mechanical engineering and team leader. "We drew out some sketches of the body we wanted, we picked an airfoil shape."
BU has entered the Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) mileage competition for some time, recently placing as high as third. This 130-pound entry with a top speed of 45 miles per hour is this year's hope.
"A lot of this comes down to a very small engine and going over all the efficiencies, bearings, small wheels, aerodynamics, controlling the fuel," said Gleason.
Admittedly not a very comfortable ride, the students have worked for eight months perfecting their car at a cost of around $10,000, but don't expect this eco-friendly auto in your neighborhood showroom.
"It's more about the design aspect. There's not a whole lot of technology that can be applied to the industry," said Colin Selleck, a BU engineering lecturer who's helping to oversee the project team.
And while the technology used here isn't likely to end up in a Detroit showroom, the skills the students are using possibly could, an integral first step in their professional engineering careers.
"What we've done here is prototyping, fast and furious, trying to get it done. It's a bit different than what they do in industry. But a lot of the fundamentals we've learned are things we can take to the real world," said PJ Bishop, a BU senior and team member.
The competition kicks off this June in Michigan, a mere 500 miles away.
There's word that the SAE competition may convert to a hybrid format, according to Professor Selleck. A chance, he says, to create more industry-ready processes.