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K-State Today Student Edition

April 6, 2012

Chemical engineering design team wins award, almost qualifies for nationals at regional competition

By Communications and Marketing

The Kansas State University chemical engineering design team, ChemE Car, won an award and nearly qualified for nationals at a regional competition at Washington University in St. Louis, March 30-31.

The team won an award for best poster presentation and Kansas State finished fourth among the 12 competing universities in the performance category, one spot away from qualifying for national competition. This is the second consecutive year the team has earned the presentation award.

A ChemE Car is a shoebox-sized vehicle powered and stopped by chemical reactions. The goal is to carry a load of up to 500 grams of water an exact distance. Both the load and the distance are announced 30 minutes before the competition, so the challenge is to calibrate the vehicle for all possible distances and loads. The competition also entails an extensive safety review including an engineering documentation package that is reviewed and critiqued by industry experts.

This year's car, The Eggbeater, uses eggshells – calcium carbonate – and citric acid to produce carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide pressurizes the system causing a piston to extend and move the car. With a load of 480 grams and a goal distance of 53 feet, the car was able to stop within two feet of its goal. The engineering documentation package for this car weighs in at 81 pages and the design was praised to its extensive safety considerations and attention to detail.

This ChemE Car team is open to all majors. If you are interested in the team please contact Kevin Diehl, kmdiehl@k-state.edu.