2019 Chron15 Pioneer: Duke Electric Vehicles

For more than seven years, the Duke Electric Vehicle team, formerly named Duke Eco-Marathon, has worked on finding solutions for more sustainable transport by inventing future electric vehicle technologies. The team's battery-powered vehicles have successfully competed in the Shell Eco-marathon Americas, winning the competition for battery electric cars in 2017 and 2018. Typically numbering 15 to 20 students, the entirely student-run team went one step further last year and added an additional vehicle type to their team: a fuel cell car powered by hydrogen. 

In its first year working with this novel technology, the Duke Electric Vehicle team won the Eco Marathon and set a new Guinness world record for the most fuel-efficient car in known human history, reaching more than 14,500 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent. With the equivalent of one gallon of gasoline, the team's car could drive from New York to Los Angeles more than five times! On the way to this world record, the team invented pioneering and groundbreaking new technological solutions, which are publicly available and can be used to design better and more sustainable cars in the future.

Nico Hotz is an assistant professor of the practice of mechanical engineering & materials science.

Editor's note: This profile is part of our annual initiative called The Chron15. We are highlighting 15 people and groups who are defining what it means to be at Duke this year. Read about the project and more of our selections.


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