Texas A&M University-Kingsville Student Chem-E-Car Team Wins Regional Competition, Compete at Nationals
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Student Chem-E-Car Team Wins Regional Competition, Compete at Nationals

Posted on Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Members of the Chem-E-Car Competition™ Team

Seven chemical engineering students from Texas A&M University-Kingsville took first place in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Chem-E-Car Competition™ for the organization’s Southwest Regional Conference. 

The Chem-E-Car Competition™ is an annual competition hosted by AIChE. The competition engages college students in designing and constructing a model car powered by a chemical energy source that will safely carry a specified load over a given distance and stop. 

The Southwest Regional Conference competition, hosted by the University of Houston, was one of nine regional competitions held throughout the country. The winners of those competitions have the chance to compete at the national competition, to be held this November in San Francisco. 

This was the first time in three years the A&M-Kingsville AIChE Student Chapter had competed in the Chem-E-Car Competition™, and the first time an A&M-Kingsville team has ever won the regional competition and advanced to the national level. 

The team said they looked back at previous designs for inspiration. What they developed was a model car that used hydrogen and oxygen—the ingredients of water. The hydrogen and oxygen start separate; when they are joined together, a current is formed, propelling the car. The current passes through a magnesium strip, which dissolves into hydrochloric acid, stopping the current. 

The team worked on the model car for most of the spring semester. The group credited Associate Professor of Chemistry Jingbo Liu for her assistance in providing fuel cells and work space. The faculty advisor for the group is chemical engineering assistant professor Chongwei Xiao. 

As part of the competition, they had to have the design approved for competition via an AIChE poster presentation, where it was judged for safety and design. The design passed the test, taking second in the poster presentation. 

What’s more impressive, the team noted, is that their design was made from household objects for about $50, while teams from other schools had designs that cost ten times as much. 

The group plans to raise enough funds for all members of the team to attend the national competition. They also have the opportunity to refine their design, to further its performance. 


Cynthia Chevez

Juan Hernandez

David Hinojosa

Luis Riojas

James Schwab

Seth Trebatoski

Liliana Vela


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