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CU Denver team wins Shell Eco-marathon with hydrogen-powered vehicle

CU Denver's winning vehicle.

CU Denver's triumphant Eco-marathon team.

CU Denver's team won the Shell Eco-marathon in Houston April 5-7 with a vehicle powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that attained the equivalent of 209 miles per gallon of gasoline.

The Eco-marathon consists of a 0.6-mile track in downtown Houston. Teams must complete 10 laps to be in consideration.
 
The team of nine CU Denver seniors built the vehicle as part of their senior design projects. After designing the vehicle in the fall, they built it during the second semester.
 
"It was an awesome time," says Ryan Anderson, the team's leader.

They beat the previous title-holder handily. "They had run the same vehicle for a while," says Anderson. "We started from scratch and designed everything from the ground up."
 
Anderson says the key to victory was stripping as much weight as possible from the vehicle. Instead of a traditional frame, the vehicle features a complex carbon-fiber ribbed system.
 
Sponsorship from Saudi Aramco helped bolster the team's budget to about $20,000 -- about half of which went to the fuel cell. It also helped pay travel costs to Houston, but didn't cover the team's time investment. "In the build phase, there were multiple nights we were in the shop until three in the morning," says Anderson.
 
With victory in hand, about half of the team is graduating this spring, and others have a semester to go. Anderson says he's going to move on from motorsports and go to graduate school at CU Denver. "I'm really interested in biomechanics," he says.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Read more articles by Eric Peterson.

Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here.
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