October 30, 2013 | City College
Car made by Grove School students with CUNY Energy Institute battery technology vies for top prize at Institute’s annual meeting in San Francisco
Its energy source is a zinc manganese oxide battery developed at The City College of New York and it motors along at a leisurely 0.27 meters per second. Meet “REAKTER,” the City College AIChE student club’s entry in this Sunday’s Chem-E-Car finals at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual meeting in San Francisco.
The City College team qualified for the national AIChE competition after placing third at the Mid-Atlantic regional finals at Rutgers University last April with an earlier incarnation of REAKTER. The 11-member team that built the new car fancies its chances in the national finals against 30 other top engineering schools from the United States and overseas.
Other participants in the event include: Cornell University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Mexico’s Tecnológico de Monterrey and Texas A&M Qatar.
“The competition’s objective is to produce a small car that operates on a chemical reaction and stops at a designated distance using another chemical reaction with no mechanical means,” said Roman Yakobov, a senior chemical engineering major and team leader.
The other team members traveling to San Francisco are: Kamrul Hassan, Evgeniya Rubin, Rodolfo Ramirez, Andre Smithson, Andres Quito, Jannatun Nayem, Salah Bourim, Adel Njeim, Marco A. Martinez and Ali Rad. The team name, REAKTER, was derived from the initials of AIChE club members involved in the project.
The car’s primary component is the environmentally friendly battery developed by the CUNY Energy Institute based at City College. The battery is rechargeable and disposable, and it generates 13.6 volts. A potassium hydroxide solution is used as the battery’s electrolyte to produce a chemical reaction that provides the electric power for REAKTER’s two motors.
Iodine clock reaction, a chemical process through which two clear liquids are mixed together to produce a dark, opaque color, is used to stop the car. For the City College vehicle, a vitamin C solution is added to iodine tincture to make it transparent. When mixed with starch, the iodine reacts, turns opaque blue and breaks an electrical circuit to the motors that involves a photoreceptor and photo-diode.
The AIChE competition encourages undergraduates to utilize their knowledge of chemical engineering and the sciences in practical ways. Working on REAKTER also enhanced team members’ interest in clean energy sources, such as green batteries, said Mr. Yakobov.
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Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture; the School of Education; the Grove School of Engineering; the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, and the Colin L. Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership.
Set on a striking, 35-acre hilltop campus in upper Manhattan, CCNY has produced more Nobel laureates than any other public institution in the United States. The College has been touted as one of America’s Top Colleges by Forbes, one of the Best Colleges in the United States as well as one of the Best Value Colleges by the Princeton Review, and ranks among U.S. News’ top regional universities.