Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions that we receive about our car when we attend events. To familiarize yourself, read below!

Q: How fast does the car go? How much does it weigh? What kind of fuel efficiency does it achieve?

A: The car is currently tuned to go around 20 mph. It weighs around 375 lbs. At the 2013 Shell Eco-Marathon, the car achieved an efficiency rating of 8.8 miles per kWh, which is equivalent to 299 mpg of gasoline on a per mass basis. Since the hydrogen is compressed with an energy density at around 1/10 of gasoline, we are achieving ~30 miles per gallon of hydrogen. Over this next year, however, we hope to modify TGIII to achieve an efficiency of nearly twice this past year's rating. (Hopefully somewhere around 20 miles per kWh)

Q: Who designed and built the car? What is it made out of? 

A: The car is entirely designed and built by University of Missouri students. The body of the car is made of epoxied carbon fiber and Nomex, a honeycomb-type material. 

Q: Why are you using hydrogen as a fuel source?

A: Hydrogen reacts with oxygen to make water. Eliminating carbon compounds from fuel eliminates carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide from emissions. We think that hydrogen is a clean alternative energy for the future. Although many hurdles exist with using hydrogen as a fuel source, we have made it a challenge of ours to use this fuel. By the way, hydrogen is also the most abundant element in the Universe.

Q: Do the fuel cells combust hydrogen? How do they work?

A: No, combustion does not take place in a fuel cell. All of the hydrogen vehicles that we have made are essentialy electric cars which use hydrogen to produce the electricity. A general observation about fuel cells is that they are twice as efficient as typical combustion engines. Visit our technology page to learn more about how fuel cells work

Q: So there are no carbon emissions?

A: Correct! No carbon dioxide is produced in the process. Only water and very small amounts of Nitrous Oxides are produced upon the running of a fuel cell.

Q: Where do you get your hydrogen from?

A: Airgas is our current hydrogen sponsor and donates the gas on an as-needed basis. The gas is currently retrieved from cracking and pyrolysis towers. However, our hope is to eventually make our own hydrogen by hydrolyzing water. Current research shows that cobalt phosphate may be one of the the most efficient catalysts for hydrolyzing water. If hydrogen can be efficiently produced from solar sources, the need for oil-like sources can be eliminated, and a no-carbon vehicle economy could be obtained.

Q: What are some of the other problems with using hydrogen as a fuel source?

A: To achieve an energy density close to that of gasoline, hydrogen must be compressed to a pressure of nearly 20,000 psi. Currently, in the Tigergen III vehicle we use hydrogen stored at a pressure of 2,200 psi. Once strides in material science are made to achieve a safe and economical way of pressurizing hydrogen, we can look towards using it as a viable fuel source. 

Q: Why did you switch from solar energy?

A: The problem with using solar energy today is that it is near impossible to collect the amount of solar energy necessary to move a conventional sized car while it is in motion. In order to achieve the energy requirements, large advances must be made in solar cell technology and unconventional car designs must be used to allow for extended surface area, leading to wind resistance issues. We don't mean to entirely neglect this energy source, we just believe it is a bit further off in the future that we will see this technology come to fruition.

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