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Electric Car Club sparks interest of Mizzou Engineers

Members of Mizzou Engineering's new Electric Car Club meet and discuss preliminaries. Here, President Stuart Lloyd-Smith, solicits ideas on what equipment the club will need to procure in order to convert their 1997 Ford Explorer into an electric version of itself.

new competition team is making its University of Missouri College of Engineering debut. The Mizzou Electric Car Club is meeting weekly in their quest to perfect the conversion of a gas-powered vehicle to one that runs on electricity.

A first meeting was held in October after a mass e-mail went out to mechanical and electrical engineering students. Since then, executive elections have been held, a business plan was created, committees were established and the new team is charging ahead.

Stuart Lloyd-Smith, a senior mechanical engineer serving as team president, said the primary goal of the electric car team is to establish a working vehicle and later pursue competitions.

The group is converting a 1997 two-door Ford Explorer – donated by the University – into an energy efficient electric vehicle. The process involves stripping the motor and developing an alternative motor that is powered by lithium ion batteries. They are also looking into the advantages of regenerative braking and solar panes.

Regenerative braking uses motor-generators, which convert the kinetic energy of motion into electrical energy that is stored in the battery.

If the team uses the regenerative braking method, modeled on the Toyota Prius, Austin Schreiber, team treasurer, says it would be expensive, so they are hoping to make their own or possibly receive donations from Toyota.

Students joined the team for different reasons, but share the sentiment of its potential.

“This is a great opportunity to start something brand new that will continue at Mizzou,” Lloyd-Smith said.

Others wanted the opportunity to practice classroom curriculum in an active environment.

“We are getting a hands-on feel for what we learn in class, and because we are new, there is a lot of room for creativity,” Vice-president Matt Johnson said.

One of the things that Schreiber, a junior in electrical engineering, feels is unique about the Electric Car Club is the possibility of commercial applications.

“The goal is to cut our foreign oil dependency. Things like carpooling to work and electric vechicles are ways to do this,” Schreiber said.

Currently the team is searching for sponsors and investigating resources. Students interested in joining the team may contact Stuart Lloyd-Smith, sml52b@mail.missouri.edu, or advisors Leon Schumacher, Richard Whelove and Marty Walker.