FROM READERS: Mizzou hydrogen car team readies for competition

Thursday, March 22, 2012 | 6:11 p.m. CDT; updated 10:09 a.m. CDT, Friday, March 23, 2012
The Mizzou Hydrogen Car Team will compete in the Shell Eco-Marathon competition from March 29 to April 1. The team members hope to improve upon their success from last year with their new car, TigerGen III.

Victoria Hezel is the current president of the Mizzou Hydrogen Car Team. She is an industrial engineering major at the University of Missouri.

With less than one week until the Mizzou Hydrogen Car Team leaves for the Shell Eco-Marathon in Houston, TX, our members are diligently working to get TigerGen III completed. Over the next week it will get painted, all of the components will get placed into the car, and we will take it for some test driving before we pack up and leave next Wednesday morning, March 28.

TigerGen III has been in the works for two years, and what a journey it has been! Every two years we design and build a new hydrogen car. Last year was the “design” year for TigerGen III and this year is our “build” year. The great thing about our team is that we get hands on experience that we don’t otherwise get in the classroom. Coupled with that, this project forces us to learn from our mistakes and experiences.

Two years ago, we raced TigerGen II for the first time in the Shell Eco-Marathon 2010. Not only was it our first time with that car, but it was our first experience at the Eco-Marathon race. TigerGen II was not fully completed the day that we departed from Columbia. As a result, a majority of our team members were not only pulling all nighters for many nights before we left, but many of them barely got any sleep once we arrived in Houston. To add to the stress, TigerGen II had some major glitches, preventing it from ever completing a full six mile race.

In the end, the team won the “Perseverance in the Face of Adversity” award, but more than anything it was a huge learning experience. For the next year, the team worked together to fine-tune TigerGen II so we could get it out on the track at the Shell Eco-Marathon 2011 and prove what it could do. Heading to the race that year the team was more excited than ever, as we thought we had fixed all of our problems.

Turns out, we had indeed. TigerGen II completed all six of the six mile races and achieved a gasoline equivalent of 476 mpg. The team also won the award for “Best Team Spirit” out of all 63 national and international teams at the event, representing Mizzou and Missouri well!

Stemming from this amazing win, the team is feeling the pressure to make TigerGen III the most successful car we have built thus far. Just as with TigerGen II, TigerGen III will compete in the Urban Concept category of the race. The cars in this category are similar to vehicles you would see on the road today, equipped with four wheels, headlights, blinkers, and even windshield wipers.

TigerGen III is an improvement on all aspects of TigerGen II, including a larger frame so even our tallest members can take the car for a spin, more efficient fuel cells and a swing arm suspension in the back. We have created a larger door so it is easier for the driver to vacate the vehicle in less than 10 seconds, added a windshield wiper per Shell’s requirement, and created a car that looks more like a sports car including being outfitted with a “grill” providing airflow to the driver. The team has set a goal this year of achieving a gasoline equivalent of over 500 mpg, and with some fine tuning we are excited to see what it can accomplish. 

Leading the team as the president over the past year, I could not be more proud. We are a group of diverse majors with members from all types of engineering as well as business who have worked together to make our computer modeled design a reality. Working on this diverse of a team, we have to learn how to work together and pull all of our ideas to come up with the most efficient design. Throughout these two years, there have been challenges as well as success, and it all leads up to the race we will be attending next week. Filled with great anticipation, everyone is working hard to finish up their section of the car, and we can’t wait to get it out on the track!

As we have put countless hours into this car, and as we finish it up, we know that this car would not be possible without the support of our sponsors. The team has over 30 sponsors for TigerGen III. For a full listing, please visit our website at Our diamond, platinum, and gold level sponsors for TigerGen III are: MU College of Engineering, Airgas, SolidWorks, Advanced Pattern Works LLC, Boeing, Kays Engineering, Missouri Department of Natural Resources Division of Energy, and Nolek. We want to thank these and all of our sponsors for their support!

If you are interested in following the team while on the race, we will be updating our facebook page ( regularly with race results as well as pictures.

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