OSU Racing Team Sets New Land-Speed Record in Electric Vehicle

Eleven miles of pristine track – a dry, compact layer of salt – and clear, sunny weather produced the perfect setting for this year’s record-setting runs.

The Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3 (VBB-3) shattered the previous world record of 307.6 mph (495 kph), set by the Ohio State-Venturi team in 2010. The new world record is pending certification by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the worldwide motorsports governing body, in Category A Group VIII Class 8.

After three years of battling difficult weather conditions at the Wendover, Utah, Bonneville Salt Flats track, The Ohio State University’s Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3 student team and driver Roger Schroer rallied to push their electric streamline vehicle to a world record two-way average top of 341.4 miles per hour (549.4 kilometers per hour) on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016.

The record-setting car is propelled by two custom electric motors developed by Venturi Automobiles, and is powered by over two megawatts of lithium ion batteries produced by A123 Systems. The vehicle was piloted by Roger Schroer, veteran team driver from the Ohio State affiliated Transportation Research Center, the nation’s leading independent automotive proving ground and vehicle testing organization in East Liberty, Ohio.

The team’s faculty advisor and Center for Automotive Research Director Giorgio Rizzoni said the VBB-3 boasts significant advances in power electronic systems and automated transmission. “The progress made this year is a very important step in the quest to reach the 400 miles per hour goal,” said Rizzoni. “The support of Venturi and of numerous other industry partners is recognition of this program’s value in producing the next generation of engineers. As always, team members have a bright future in the automotive industry.”

The Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3 is the latest iteration in a series of electric racing vehicles built at Ohio State’s Center for Automotive Research, which has a 22 year history of electric racing. In 2004, Buckeye Bullet 1, which ran on nickel metal hydride batteries, set a national land speed record with an average time of 315 mph (506.9 kph). Venturi Buckeye Bullet 2, the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell-powered land speed electric vehicle, set the international record of 303 mph (487.6 kph) in 2009.

New OSU Research Suggests Stress Matters More Than Diet

This study is the first to show that stress has the potential to cancel out benefits of choosing healthier fats. The study comes from researchers at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Unstressed women who ate a biscuits-and-gravy breakfast made mostly with saturated fat fared worse in blood tests looking for precursors to disease than those women who ate an identical breakfast made primarily with monounsaturated sunflower oil.

But when women in the study had a stressful event before the breakfast test, the hardships of the previous day appeared to erase any benefits linked to the healthy fat choice, say researchers from The Ohio State University.

Minor irritants didn’t count as a stressful day. Stressors included having to clean up paint a child spilled all over the floor and struggling to help a parent with dementia who was resisting help.

This study leaves open questions about the connections between stress, fat source and healthier meals higher in fiber and fruits and vegetables and lower in calories, say Ohio State Researchers.

OSU Water Conservation Research Results

While current efforts to curtail agricultural runoff will improve the health of Lake Erie, much more work will be needed to protect the streams that feed the lake, new research shows.

A study of the western Lake Erie watershed found that increased conservation efforts will be needed on most of the farms in the watershed in order to protect arterial streams in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.

The project, led by researchers at The Ohio State University and The Nature Conservancy, used computer modeling to get a handle on the impact of various conservation efforts in the western Lake Erie watershed. The area includes about 5.5 million acres of cropland, making it the most intensely farmed watershed feeding into the Great Lakes.

The study shows that both the streams and the lake will benefit if appropriate conservation efforts are implemented, he said. Conservation efforts include erosion control and nutrient management, including being selective about how much fertilizer is used and when it is applied.

The report includes predictions about the effects of a variety of conservation scenarios to give stakeholders information on which to base plans going forward.

Fracking and Microorganisms: Research at OSU

Researchers analyzing the genomes of microorganisms living in shale oil and gas wells have found evidence of sustainable ecosystems taking hold there – populated in part by a never-before-seen genus of bacteria they have dubbed “Frackibacter.”

The new genus is one of the 31 microbial members found living inside two separate fracturing wells, Ohio State University researchers and their colleagues report in the Sept. 5 online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology.

Even though the wells were hundreds of miles apart and drilled in different kinds of shale formations, the microbial communities inside them were nearly identical, the researchers discovered.

Almost all the microbes they found had been seen elsewhere before, and many likely came from the surface ponds that energy companies draw on to fill the wells. But that’s not the case with the newly identified Candidatus Frackibacter, which may be unique to hydraulic fracturing sites, said Kelly Wrighton, assistant professor of microbiology and biophysics at Ohio State.

In biological nomenclature, “Candidatus” indicates that a new organism is being studied for the first time using a genomic approach, not an isolated organism in a lab culture. The researchers chose to name the genus “Frackibacter” as a play on the word “fracking,” shorthand for “hydraulic fracturing.”

One implication of the study is that methane produced by microbes living in shale wells could possibly supplement the wells’ energy output.

Longer Charges = More Miles, New Research at OSU

In the journal Energy and Environmental Science, Ohio State University engineers describe the “smart” membrane that they hope will enable the development of a new category of fast-charging and powerful batteries called “redox transistor batteries” for automobiles that will travel farther on a single charge.

Along the way, they analyzed the performance of the leading hybrid and electric car batteries, and discovered something that, to their knowledge, has never before been stated outright. The best eco-car makers appear to have hit a performance limit, and that limit is 0.4 miles – less than half a mile of driving – per minute of charging.

Put another way, today’s very best eco-friendly cars can travel around 200 miles after an 8-hour charge, while gas-powered cars can cover the same distance after only one minute spent at the pump. The researchers hope their new technology can boost electric car batteries to provide up to tens of miles per minute of charge.

The university will license the technology to industry for further development.

The same technology could prevent self-discharge in supercapacitors, which give high power and rapid recharge capability to some electric cars, buses and light rail transit systems.

While the researchers have proven that the membrane works with conventional batteries they want to use it as the basis of a new type of battery. They are working to combine a so-called redox flow battery, in which an electrolyte is pumped from the anode to the cathode to generate power, with their smart membrane to create the so-called “redox transistor battery.”