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KU Formula Car Team Larger Than Ever, Switches to E85 Fuel

Friday, December 12, 2008

The University of Kansas Formula SAE racing team, which has its largest team ever, has made a major change this year, using E85 as the primary racing fuel for the vehicle.

This year’s car, JMS-09, will run on fuel composed of 85 percent ethanol and only 15 percent gasoline. Previous editions have run on high-octane race fuel. The team has done considerable research and testing and has found that performance benefits to go along with the ecological benefits of using a renewable fuel source.

“With the E85 fuel, we have achieved more horsepower than was possible with the previous high-octane race fuel,” says powertrain team leader Jacob Homer, a senior in mechanical engineering from Overland Park.

This year’s Formula SAE team is larger than ever, with more than 25 underclassmen volunteers, 15 seniors who have chosen the team as their senior design project and six graduate level volunteers. Jayhawk Motorsports is supported by dozens of engineers and professionals in industry. The project gives students of all levels and disciplines real-world experience they would not receive in the classroom.

JMS-09 is nearing completion of the initial design phase. Every part on the car, from brake lines to bearings, is modeled in SolidWorks. A full car model is completed by the end of the fall semester. This model allows the team to find possible problems and to measure things such as the vehicle’s center of gravity. It is this testing and modeling that leads to success on the track.

“The team puts in considerable hours through the design and testing phases in hopes of bringing a top-level vehicle to the track in the spring,” says Prof. Robert Sorem, Associate Dean of the School of Engineering and the team’

KU’s Formula SAE teams have a national reputation for excellence. The team had a streak of six consecutive years as the only team in the country to complete all phases of the competition, which tests the performance and durability of the vehicles and pushes teams to reach the highest levels of engineering creativity. KU’s team has earned three top-10 finishes nationally in the past five years.

In the spring, the team will compete in Formula SAE Competitions in Detroit and California, as well as national competition in Texas and Lincoln in summer 2009.

In addition to building a top-performing vehicle, the team also maintains vehicles from previous years, using past cars to promote the School of Engineering at community events as well as during campus tours and high school science events.

Team meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. Mondays and 9 a.m. Saturdays at the Formula shop, 1109 Learned Hall. All majors are welcome and are encouraged to join the team. People that are interested in joining the team should stop by the shop or contact Matt Petty at mbpetty@gmail.com

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