CHEM-E-CAR PROJECT The American Institute of Chemical Engineers Student Chapter at UCLA Updated on June 19, 2011 Prepared by: Kevin Lin, AIChE UCLA Chem-E-Car Co-Chair Eddie Zeng, AIChE UCLA Chem-E-Car Co-Chair www.aicheucla.com
MISSION STATEMENT The national American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) established the Chem-E-Car Competition to provide practical engineering experience for chemical engineering students. The competition requires students to design and create a reaction driven box-car. In a team-oriented environment, students must apply their chemistry and engineering knowledge to accurately control the car's movement. The competition also promotes awareness of the chemical engineering discipline among fellow students, educators, industry representatives, and to the public. As a part of the Chem-E-Car team, students will gain a practical experience unique to the chemical engineering professional society.
INTRODUCTION The Chem-E-Car team at UCLA is a part of the UCLA student chapter of AIChE. We design and build a shoebox-sized car, powered by only chemical reactions. We compete against teams from schools across the nation. The challenge of the Chem-E-Car competition is preciseness. We must configure the car to carry a specified load across a specified distance. The car that stops closest to the goal distance wins. Neither the load nor the distance is known until the day of the competition. The spirit of the competition is to inspire innovative and alternative sources of fuel. Our car for this year, nicknamed the “Bruin Car,” will be a redesigned model from previous years. We will continue to use a hydrogen fuel cell to power our car. We will make a new chassis and outfit it with new parts such as the fuel cell, motor, wheels, and wiring. The stopping mechanism, which utilizes the conductivity of solutions, will be entirely novel. The goal is to make this car as reliable and efficient as possible. Figure 1 shows a schematic of the Bruin Car. A hydrogen fuel cell generates electric current to power the car. The hydrogen gas needed is generated by a reaction between 2M hydrochloric acid and magnesium (Mg(s) + 2HCl(aq) --> H2(g) + MgCl2(aq)). The hydrogen gas is filtered through 500 mL of water and a desiccant to remove any acid or moisture, which can damage the fuel cell. Finally, the purified hydrogen gas enters the fuel cell. An excess amount of hydrogen gas is produced so that only the stopping mechanism determines when the car stops. The stopping mechanism of our car functions by the conduction of electricity through ionized water. By varying the amount of ionized water which serves to complete the circuit connected to the motor, we assume full and precise control over the stopping time of our car; when the water level drops below that of the electrodes, the circuit is broken and the car is halted. Safety is a top priority in the design of the Bruin Car. We will use an ant farm container to hold the ionized water for two reasons. Firstly, the container is narrow and thin, allowing for substantial drops in the water level that can be manipulated to control the stopping time. Secondly, the container is wide,
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allowing for a safety distance between the two electrodes, which may cause a spark after the conductor water has been drained.
Figure 1: Initial car schematic The Chem-E-Car Team at UCLA has competed in multiple National and Regional Conferences. The Regional Competition is the qualifying round for the National Competition. At the Western Regional Conference on April 4th, 2009 at UC Davis, we placed 2nd out of 8 teams, which allowed for our participation at the 2009 AIChE National Conference competition in Nashville, Tennessee. We also won the Spirit of Competition award, which is granted to the team with the most spirit. At the most recent Regional Conference held at CSU Long Beach in Spring of 2011, we placed 5 th place out of seven teams that competed. Furthermore, our poster won the honorable mention award at the same competition.
TARGETS AND ACTIVITIES Our goal this year is to prepare a car by the upcoming Western Regional Conference in the spring of 2012. At the conference, we will meet other teams, network with industry representatives, attend instructive workshops, and participate in the competition. In preparation for the competition, we will focus on the new stopping mechanism and a new body for the car. We will have all construction of the car complete much before competition time - so that we can carry out sufficient calibrations on the car.
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COST ESTIMATES Chem-E-Car Design and Competition Chem-E-Car is a year-long project that requires a lot of human effort and resources. Our current funding sources include Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., BP, the UCLA Engineering Alumni Association’s Alumni Fund for Student Projects, the UCLA Undergraduate Students Association (USA), Student Organization’s Operational Fund (SOOF), and the UCLA Undergraduate Students Association Contingency Fund. Estimated Cost of Building New Car Description Wheel – Rubber with Nylon Bearing Motor System – Motor and Speed Control Fuel Cell System – 30 W Fuel Cell Stack Velcro – 5ft x 0.75 in Axle – Aluminum Rod Car Frame – Aluminum Equal Angle Container of Ionized Water– Mini Ant Farm Copper Plate California Sales Tax Total Requested for Building New Car Estimated Cost of Chemicals Description Hydrochloric Acid Magnesium Ribbon, 99% California Sales Tax Total Requested for Chemicals
Quantity 4 1 1 1 2 1 1 2
Unit Wheel System System Strip Rod Set Box Plate
Unit Cost $1.62 $319.95 $347.99 $5.95 $6.33 $28.97 $12.19 $3.25 8.75%
Total Cost $6.48 $319.95 $742.00 $5.95 $12.66 $28.97 $12.19 $6.50 $99.29 $1233.99
Quantity 1 1
Unit Bottle Ribbon
Unit Cost $49.05 $66.80 8.75%
Total Cost $49.95 $66.80 $10.22 $126.97
Unit Cost $49.05 $66.80 $25.00 $10.00 $5.95 $13.95 8.75%
Total Cost $49.05 $66.80 $500.00 $20.00 $74.38 $167.40 $33.04 $910.67
Estimated Cost of AIChE Western Regional Conference 2012 Description Quantity Unit Hydrochloric Acid 1 Bottle Magnesium Ribbon, 99% 1 Ribbon Registration Cost 20 Person Chemical Shipment 2 Shipment Poster 36in by 50in 12.5 Square Feet Chem E Car T-Shirt 12 Shirt California Sales Tax (Registration Excluded) Total Requested for AIChE Western Regional Conference 2012
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CONTACT INFORMATION Please feel free to contact our officers with any questions, comments, or suggestions. Thank you for your interest in contributing to our student chapter! AIChE Officer Information Kevin Lin Eddie Zeng
Chem-E-Car Co-Chairs OFFICER POSITION
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