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American Institute of Chemical Engineers

Chem-E Car


The Chemical Engineering Car (Chem-E-Car) is a shoe-box sized car that is powered by a chemical reaction. Chemical Engineering students of all levels contribute through their knowledge of chemical reactions, physics, circuits, and thermodynamics. The competition requires a payload of water up to 500mL to run a distance between 50 and 100 feet within two minutes.  The team has been successful at their competitions, including the 2016 Regional, and 2019 Regional competitions.

Roger Black
Marcel Chlupsa
Faculty Advisor
Dr. Jennifer Anthony
Faculty Advisor
Dr. Andrew Duncan

The team would like to thank Dr. Keith Hohn for his support as faculty advisor and mentor, and wishes him luck in all of his future endeavors.

The 2018-2019 K-State Chem-E-Car Student Design Team took two cars to their regional competition in Rolla, MO.  They placed 1st in the competition and will be taking a team of 1 senior (Roger Black), 1 junior (David Alex Ortiz), and 2 freshmen (Rachael Berland and Denea Clark) to Orlando, FL this Fall to compete nationally.  The car's success has been attributed to the long hours spent working on it, and the detailed research conducted to create and optimize the vehicle.  The three founding members of the car (Dean Bennett, Joseph Hewitt, and Katharine Kellogg) produced independent feasibility and optimization reports as part of the Written Communication for Engineers course.  These provided the solid foundation that allowed them to create a working prototype within months of conception.  The vehicle is driven by a pneumatic artificial muscle, with mechanical energy being developed from a gas-producing acid-base neutralization reaction.  Electronic systems control the contraction and relaxation timing.  The second car that the team took to regionals, Glowing Glowing Gone, was not as successful, but was a purely experimental driving mechanism that the team had never competed with before.  it used a acid-base neutralization reaction to generate high temperatures to power a thermocouple battery.  The timing of the car was controlled by the luminol stopping mechanism that the team perfected over the last two years. 


The team competed at the 2018 Mid-America Regional competition in Stillwater, OK.  They brought 2 cars with them, but unfortunately were unable to place in the top 3.  They were able, however to test two prototype vehicles: Wildcat Workout, and Luminati.  Wildcat workout is powered by a pneumatic artificial muscle.  The pressurized gas supplied to the muscle is generated from an acid-base neutralization reaction.  A microcontroller is regulates timing of contraction and relaxation.  Luminati is driven by a Cu-Zn galvanic cell, but is unique in it's luminol stopping mechanism.  Luminol produces a soft, blue light as it decomposes.  Luminati runs while this reaction produces an appreciable amount of light, and stops when the light diminishes below a threshold.  While they did not place well in performance, each car demonstrates the team's originality, creativity, and engineering skills.

The 2014-2015 K-State Chem-E-Car Student Design Team took two cars to their regional competition in Lawrence, KS last spring. The team took home 1st place in the poster competition and car performance with its pressure driven vehicle, the “Bill Snyder Family Chem-E-Car” that stopped six inches closer than the second-place car. The team qualified for national competition and traveled to Salt Lake City, UT last fall. At nationals there were 34 qualified teams, six traveling from across the world. The K-State Chem-E-Car Student Design Team took home 2nd place in the poster competition and 14th in the car performance.

At the 2016 regional competition, the battery driven "K-State Model S" took 1st in the poster presentation, while the "Bill Snyder Family Chem-E Car" took 3rd.   During the performance competition, pressure car raced into 1st, while battery car steadily made its way to 3rd.  While the top three placers at regionals are eligible for the national competition, each school may enter only one car.  The K-State Chem-E Car Design Team can again look forward to competing nationally this fall.
You can read more about our victory at the 2016 regional competition here.