Human Factor

California dreaming: Meet the teams heading to SEM Americas

As the Shell Eco-marathon goes stateside, meet some of the young hopefuls heading to the West coast to take part in the hydrogen race.

Following an exciting first leg in Singapore in March, final preparations are now underway for the next race in the US. From April 19 - 22, more than 1,000 students are expected to gather at the Sonoma Raceway in California. Their challenge? To build, test and drive ultra-energy-efficient vehicles. Meet one of the teams that will be participating in the hydrogen category.

Queen’s Fuel Cell Team

This Canadian team has been taking part in the competition for the past few years – with highs and lows along the way. In 2016, they came first in the Hydrogen Fuel Cell prototype division. Then, last year, disaster struck. Following some last minute technical issues, they were unable to compete. Wiser and more determined than ever, the team is back and can’t wait to get started! 

Smiles all round - the winning team in 2016.

Facts and figures:

Team name: Queen's Fuel Cell Team

Car name: The QFCT Eco-Vehicle

University: Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario

Country: Canada

First Shell Eco-marathon: 2015

Quick-fire round

Where did the name QFCT Eco-Vehicle come from?

We haven’t put much creativity into the name, unfortunately. Maybe next year we’ll come up with a better one!


Have you made changes to your car this year?

Although we are using the same base as last year, we have still made some significant changes. Most notably, the car is powered by a new Ballard fuel cell, so we have had to make substantial electrical and mechanical changes to accommodate that. Our technical designers have also designed the mechanical and electrical components to be almost completely modular, allowing for easier modifications in the garage and on site.


What have you learned in the run up to the race?

We have learned the importance of following a strict, conservative schedule to organise our deliverables.  


What do you hope to achieve in the race?

We would be thrilled to achieve a better hydrogen efficiency than our 2016 Eco-Vehicle.


Do you have any concerns?

Our biggest concern with the race is that a particular component will malfunction in the technical inspection phase of the competition.


What are your tips for the driver?

Drive safe!


What advice would you give to others considering taking part in the SEM?

Take the time to get to know your teammates well and try to meet other teams at the SEM. They’ll be able to give you great help and ideas for how to improve your vehicle or make your team more efficient!


What have you learned from Linde?

Linde helped us determine all the requirements within the H2 delivery system and provided us with a strong understanding on how to calibrate our H2 sensors. In addition, we learned the proper protocol for installing H2 cylinders on our vehicle.


How would you describe the SEM in three words?

Teamwork. Innovation. Future.