What is Chem E Car?

Chem-E-Car is AIChE's annual competition engaging college students in designing and constructing a car powered by a chemical energy source, that will safely carry a specified load over a given distance and stop.

The competition, which involves multiple regional competitions and a final competition at the Annual Student conference, increases awareness of the chemical engineering discipline among the public, industry leaders, educators, and other students.1
2016 Rules | Awards | Safety & Training

     1AIChE, The Global Home of Chemical Engineers. aiche.org

Here at USF students can either volunteer their time to help build the car(s) or students can take a Chem E Car course (it counts as a chemical engineering elective). To sign up for the course students must meet with Dr. Campbell and fill out the necessary paperwork.

Meeting Time and Location

T & R 5:00-6:00pm @ENC 3002

Thank you to the Chem E Car Sponsor:

Current Cars

The Hydro-Bull

The Hydro-Bull is powered by 10 proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC's) that accept hydrogen generated from a magnesium and hydrochloric acid reaction, along with oxygen from the air to create a voltage potential as well as water vapor. The voltage is used to power the motor that is attached to the underside of the car. The braking mechanism is an Arduino microcontroller that will read the voltage output from the cells, and will be able to detect the reaction slowing as the voltage drops. Once a significant drop is seen, the Arduino will send a signal to a digital potentiometer to raise its resistance to effectively turn off the motor.

Chem E Car History

The Bulldozer (2015)

The design of the Bulldozer is based on a tank, with treads instead of wheels. A lead acid battery using 30% sulfuric acid inside a PVC pipe is connected to the motor which moves the vehicle forward until  an Arduino controller sensing light from an LED is obstructed by an iodine clock reaction and stops the car.

Chairs: Javier Figueroa & Alex Jacobsen

Cowboy Kent (2014)

Pressurized gas-powered vehicle that works by flowing carbon dioxide at 25psig (from dry ice sublimation) directly to the pneumatic motor from the reaction vessel. A 3-way solenoid valve is opened at the starting line, followed by an injection of hydrochloric acid and stopping mechanism reactants.

The stopping mechanism is a reaction between ethyl acetate and sodium hydroxide, a base hydrolysis reaction that causes the conductivity of the solution to change, which is measured by a probe connected to an Arduino micro controller.

Chairs: Spencer Davis & Ryan Kent


Bull Runner (2013)

Hydrogen gas is stored in a 1-L industrial pressure vessel with a MAWP of 1800psig. At the starting line, a ball valve is opened, releasing hydrogen to a fuel cell. The exhausted water vapor enters a heat exchanger where it is condensed and drained into the stopping mechanism containing a NaCl solution.

An Arduino micro controller measures the conductivity of the salt solution and shuts off the motor when a certain dilution is reached.

Chairs: Spencer Davis & Ryan Kent

Extend-a-Bull (2013)

A reaction of sodium bicarbonate and acetic acid to produce carbon dioxide gas is fed into a lay-flat tube on a spool, as it fills, the spool moves forward. The car stops based on the amount of gas produced, which is stoichiometrically controlled.

Chairs: Justin Stottlemyer and Giovanni Quiel

Bull Runner (2012)

A zinc-carbon dry-cell reaction occurs within multiple cells in series and parallel to obtain the voltage and current needed for a battery that is connected to an Arduino micro controller. The stopping mechanism is a clock-reaction (commonly known as Old Nassau or Halloween) composed of sodium metabisulfate, mercury (II) chloride, and potassium iodate.

Chairs: Justin Stottlemyer and Giovanni Quiel

 Bull-Dozer (2011)

A gas-forming reaction of aluminum foil and 50% sodium hydroxide solution takes place in situ in a 1L Swagelok Stainless Steel reaction vessel to produce hydrogen. At the starting line, a ball valve is opened, releasing the stored hydrogen gas to a custom-designed turbine which consists of vanes that spin to produce electricity.