Shell South Africa, a subsidiary of the multinational oil and gas company and the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) School of Electrical Engineering will once again collaborate in hosting another instalment of the Shell Eco-Marathon in Africa this year. Shell South Africa and UJ are inviting students from the Univer­sity of Pretoria who have a passion for ingenuity and innovation of cutting edge efficient technology to register a team, and possibly compete in the 2017 edition of this event, which is set to take place from 20 to 22 of October at Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria West.

The Shell Eco-Marathon is a global initiative with events that occur annually in regions including Asia, the Americas and Europe. The project attempts to encourage young engineers to invent new forms of energy which could ultimately shape and revolutionise transport in the future. The aim of this initiative by Shell is to “challenge high school and university students to design, build, test and drive the most energy efficient vehicle”, therefore creating a platform for young, passionate Engineering students and enthusiasts to showcase and exhibit their fresh, new ideas regarding efficient energy against some of the best young minds on the African continent.

 As the term “eco-marathon” suggests, the essence of this competition entails constructing unique and ultra-energy

 sustaining vehicles. The criterion for success revolves around maximising the best possible energy and efficiency for the specific car. The Shell Eco-Marathon places no emphasis on the speed of the vehicle, but rather on how economical and efficient the vehicle is in using its energy. Thus the winners of this competition come from teams that manage to travel the longest distance, utilising the least amount of fuel or energy.

There are two classes present at the Shell Eco-Marathon. Firstly, there is the Prototype class whereby participants employ a streamlining approach to the engineering of their vehicle, defying the usual aesthetics and designs of vehicles in order to ensure that the vehicle achieves maximum performance. The second class is that of the UrbanConcept vehicles that resemble everyday, roadworthy and production-type vehicles. There are also several categories of energy sources available that participants can utilise, including diesel, gasoline, battery electric, ethanol and hydrogen.

Since the inception of this event in South Africa in 2014 it has already proven a success for South African students who get to compete on a global stage. A team of Engineering students from UJ (UJ Voltronics) competed in the Shell Eco-Marathon Europe in 2016, which took place in London, where they placed 15th with their electrically-powered vehicle.

Entering the Shell Eco-Marathon is free, but space for participants is limited. Teams can register on the Shell Eco- Marathon South Africa website at www.shell.com.


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