Chem-E-Car 2018On October 17, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
Basically we build a shoebox-sized car
that competes in April against other chemical engineering departments and what this car does is there’s a shared weight load and it has to go a certain distance. We have a power source team, a stopping mechanism team, a chassis team, and electronics team. So we’re the power generation team. Basically what we’re responsible for is making the power that actually runs the cars motors.
So our cold side of the thermoelectric generator is just going to be ice water but our hot side is an exothermic dissociation of sulfuric acid and it
releases a lot of heat. So this is a Peltier cell, a thermoelectric generator.
One side goes up against a hot source or a heat sink and one goes up against a
cold source or cold sink and the temperature differential between them
produces a voltage which then serves as our power source. So we ended up getting Christmas tins because it was right in the beginning of December and we ended up at Jo-Ann Fabrics at like 8:30 p.m. It adds a nice aesthetic look to
the car. We’re hosting the AIChe conference this year, the Northeast Regional AIChE Conference and University of Rochester and RIT are hosting that jointly. Ellison really likes koalas so we decided to be the Koala-ty Engineers and we built the koalamobile. So basically what we do first, in mechanism is we have a photometer and there’s an HCl sodium thiosulfate
reaction going on and it turns opaque after certain amount of time. Once it
turns opaque it turns off the photometer and it sends a signal to a solid state relay to stop sending power to the car. We, we announced the
target distance and the weight of water they have to carry one hour before the competition so the teams all have one hour to prep their experiments so it’s a great opportunity for the students to you know work on their problem solving skills. You know every team gets two chances to complete the runs so the first time is usually you know kind of their baseline and then they go make further adjustments and then they improve on the second run. We set them up at the start line. They’re all going to try to get as close as they can to the
target distance. We have to be very precise with the measurements because sometimes these competitions the cars will be within millimeters of each other. 30 seconds remaining. It’s really awesome. So we definitely put a lot of work into the car and it’s great to see it like actually work out in competition. Our first round today it didn’t stop but we got it to start and got it to stop. It’s like two, three years of effort and it’s been a really rewarding experience.
I’ve met some really great people it’s been a really fun experience to just like see this process from beginning to end.