From High-Tech to Low-Impact, Students Excel in Green Design in Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2013

When student engineers set out to design fuel-efficient cars, some choose to rely on high-tech tools like computer simulation, while others go back to basics, with lightweight, low-impact materials like wood and rattan.  Both approaches earned honors this summer in Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2013’s off-track awards.

The actual road race, scheduled for early July in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was cancelled this year due to heavy haze and air quality problems stemming from fires burning in neighboring Indonesia. But Shell recently singled out five teams from the 130 registered for the competition for excellence in designing and promoting their environmentally friendly cars.


Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education won the design prize for its solar battery vehicle,  iTErbo III, which impressed judges with a simple and functional approach that was both economical and environmentally sound, while ensuring the safety and comfort of the driver.  “The design was clean, and the model was complete,” said Yamin Vong, editor of Cars, Bikes and Trucks, and a member of the judging panel.

Eco-friendly Design

Universiti Sains Malaysia EVT won the eco-friendly design award for the second year running for its wooden electric car, Vagabond. The judges cited the team’s strong combination of reused materials and alternative fuel. The vehicle’s chassis was made from wood sourced from non-virgin forests, and was designed to be 95 percent recyclable. “USM EVT has a detailed understanding and application of reusing, green thinking, and balanced debate about the advantages and disadvantages of electricity,” Shell Eco-marathon said in a statement. The team reused materials from its car last year to redesign its 2013 winning car.

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The team from Universiti Sains Malaysia poses with Vagabond. Photo courtesy of Shell Eco-marathon.


DLSU Eco-car Team ICE of De La Salle University in the Philippines, which designed a gasoline-powered car, DLSU 100mkIII, took the communications award with what judges said was creative and effective public awareness initiative focused on youth. “Their clever use of social media, campus events, road shows and partnerships with brands as well as industry bodies helped garner a strong footprint in educational institutions, on TV, radio and online,” the judges said.

Technical Innovation 

Mapua Institute of Technology in the Philippines won the technical innovation awards for its gasoline-powered vehicle, Aguila. Extensive research and partnerships with industry experts led the team to original technical solutions such as a dog clutch and multi-plate clutch combo and derailleur chain transmission. The design was executed with driver ergonomics and sustainability in mind, using a lightweight indigenous material, rattan, for the cockpit, backseat and footrest.

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Team Aguila of Mapua Institute of Technology in the Philippines won the technical innovation award. Photo courtesy of Shell Eco-marathon.

Shell Helix Tribology Award

ITS Team 2 of Indonesia’s Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember won the Shell Helix Tribology Award for its biodiesel-powered vehicle, Sapuangin 7. Tribology is the study of design, friction, wear, and lubrication of interacting surfaces in relative motion, as in bearings or gears. Shell Eco-marathon judges said ITS Team 2 stood out with its understanding of how lubricant selection impacts vehicle performance, quantifying this with computer-aided simulations to determine friction and fuel economy, and adjusting design elements to consider tribology impacts.

Each year, students vie to design, build, and race the most fuel efficient vehicle in Shell Eco-marathon, a 29-year-old race that now encompasses three separate annual events on three continents. The Americas edition took place in Houston in April, while the Europe competition was held in May in Rotterdam. (Related: “Super-Efficient Cars Cruise to New Victories at Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2013” and “With a New Look, French Teams Take Top Prizes in Shell Eco-marathon Europe.”)

Shell Student Energy Challenge
Four teams were also honored for their graphic designs depicting our energy future. Team Rakata from Indonesia’s Institute Teknologi Bandung, in the ethanol energy category, won the top prize of $5,000 for their submission, which impressed the judges with its thoroughly researched rundown urban CO2 emission sources and their detailed ideas and recommendations how to reduce them in future.

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Team Rakata’s entry: Image courtesy Shell. Click to see the full-size version.

Team Lahutay 2 from the Philippines’ University of San Carlo, in the diesel energy category, took second place, winning $3,000.

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Team Lahutay 2’s entry: Image courtesy Shell. Click to see the full-size version.

Egypt’s ASU Racing Team from Ain Shams University, in the gasoline energy category, won the third place prize of $2,000.

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ASU Racing Team’s entry: Image courtesy Shell. Click to see the full-size version.

Singapore’s iTerbo III, in the solar battery energy category, came in fourth place, winning $1,000.

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iTerbo III’s entry: Image courtesy Shell. Click to see the full-size version.