Missouri University of Science and Technology will host a regional Chem-E-Car Competition sponsored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) this April.

The competition challenges college students to design and construct cars that are powered by a chemical energy source, that will safely carry a specified load over a given distance and then stop.

Missouri S&T’s Chem-E-Car Team will enter two vehicles in the competition, which will be held on Saturday, April 13, during the AIChE student conference. The competition is expected to start at 9 a.m. in the Student Recreation Center at Missouri S&T, located in the Gale Bullman Building at the corner of 10th Street and Bishop Avenue in Rolla.

The competition challenges teams to design and build a shoebox-sized car that uses a chemical reaction to travel a target distance while carrying a pre-established amount of weight. Approximately 15 university teams are expected to compete at the event. 

At the competition, all vehicles must travel a randomly set distance between 15 and 30 meters. The final destination is randomized to make team members adapt and perform calculations in a short period of time. Teams must calculate the average velocity of their vehicle and decide what volume of the chemical solution would be required to activate the battery power. The car closest to the finish line at the end of the race will win and qualify for the national competition. 

The Missouri S&T team will compete with “Terry Cruise,” a vehicle powered by a six-cell lead-acid battery with a dye-changing RedOx reaction using bleach and black food coloring, and “Glo-Kart,” which is also powered by a six-cell lead-acid battery and is stopped by using a luminol chemiluminesence reaction. Both teams have 3-D printed most of the components on the cars and both cars use light sensors to cut power to motors. 

The Chem-E-Car Team is one of 20 student-run teams in Missouri S&T’s Student Design and Experiential Learning Center (SDELC). The SDELC, housed in the Kummer Student Design Center, provides teams with computer design laboratories, a manufacturing shop, office space and logistical support. Design teams mirror small start-up companies that plan large-scale projects, organize into departments, raise funds, communicate their ideas and solve open-ended design challenges. Almost every team competes annually at an event against other collegiate teams from around the country and the world. For more information about the teams, visit design.mst.edu.