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Source: Megan Young,
Photos available. Contact or 785-532-6415.
Note to editor: K-State ChemE-Car team member Ben Clubine is a 2006 graduate of Iola High School.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


MANHATTAN -- A chemical engineering design team from Kansas State University has advanced to the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' National ChemE-Car Competition by earning several honors at a recent regional competition.

The K-State ChemE-Car Team and their car, the Kansas State Beaver, earned first place in performance at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' Mid-America Regional ChemE-Car Competition, April 3-5, at the University of Missouri at Columbia.

A second K-State entry, the Kansas State Chameleon, received second place in the presentation competition and earned a Process of Safety Award.

The team's faculty adviser is Walter Walawender, professor of chemical engineering.

For the ChemE-Car competition, student teams build a small car powered by a chemical reaction that can be stopped by limiting the reaction or by a separate stopping reaction. At competitions, teams are given distances the cars must travel and a weight to be added to the cars. The teams must calibrate the amount of chemical needed to get the car to travel the specified distance.

At the Mid-America Regional, the cars had to go 65 feet. The Kansas State Beaver came within three-and-one-half feet of that distance, which earned the team first place in accuracy.

"The Kansas State Beaver is classified as a pressure car," said Megan Young, senior in chemical engineering, Cummings, and co-captain of the K-State ChemE-Car Team. "A reaction of sodium carbonate and hydrochloric acid are mixed to produce about 70 pounds per square inch of carbon dioxide that is used to extend a piston connected to a pulley system that turns the car's front wheels."

The Kansas State Chameleon is a battery car and a reaction of vanadium sulfate in different oxidation states is used to power the car, Young said. "A secondary reaction similar to a glow stick is used to stop the car, which works by using a sensor to trigger the circuit board to shut off power to the motor at a certain light intensity," she said.

The National ChemE-Car Competition will be at the national conference of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Nov. 18-13, in Nashville, Tenn.

Along with Young, members of the K-State ChemE-Car Team, all chemical engineering majors, include:

Mark McClure, junior, Assaria; Jordon Groskurth, junior, Derby, and team co-captain; Ben Clubine, junior, Manhattan; Katerina Voigt, junior, McPherson; Andrew Doll, junior, Norwich; and Neal Walters, junior, Overland Park.