Students to race electric vehicles that they built

By the Tri-City HeraldApril 24, 2014 

Students will zip around a course in Pasco on Saturday in one-person electric vehicles they've designed and built with fellow students.

The 2014 Electrathon Car Rally on the Columbia Basin College campus also will include a display of plug-in electric cars owned by members of the Mid-Columbia Electric Vehicle Association.

Franklin Public Utility District will display its Traveling Renewable Energy Kiosk, which represents a grid-connected alternative energy home with solar electric, wind generation and a battery storage system. The Sustainable Living Center of Walla Walla also will be on hand.

The rally is expected to draw up to two entries from Delta High School in the Tri-Cities, plus other entries from across Oregon and Washington, including one from Washington State University Pullman. A student and open class for all ages are planned.

Drivers, supported by pit crews, drive a course of more than a quarter-mile with tight turns and wide-open straights.

"It's a serious race," said Todd Blackman of Franklin PUD. "People will be surprised to see how fast they go and how competitive it is."

The competition is judged on how many laps a vehicle makes in an hour with a given amount of battery power.

The cars, about the size of go carts, may have three or four wheels and are powered by deep cycle lead acid battery packs not exceeding 67 pounds, according to the Sustainable Energy and Environmental Network, or SEEnetwork. They must meet specific design and safety rules.

The rally is intended to showcase and display skill and ingenuity and promote public awareness of efficient alternative electric vehicles. It combines engineering skill with race strategy, according to SEEnetwork.

Registration for the event starts at 9 a.m., with the first heat at 11 a.m. and the second heat at 12:30 p.m. The event will be at the north end of the CBC campus near the Argent Street entrances.

For information on forming a team for next year's event, call Peter Rieke, a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientist, at 438-6126. He is the mentor for the Delta High team.

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