A team of students at Mississippi State University (MSU) has redesigned a 2005 Chevrolet Equinox into a hybrid that runs on biodiesel fuel for a competition called Challenge X.

Challenge X includes teams from 17 North American universities, and is sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy. For the competition, a stock Chevrolet Equinox was donated to each team. The teams were required to alter their vehicle to get better gas mileage and produce less harmful emissions.

The MSU Challenge X team chose to produce a diesel-electric hybrid, powered by a GM 1.9-liter turbocharged engine and six-speed manual transmission and a Ballard Ac induction electric motor and Johnson Controls Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) 330V rechargeable battery pack.

The diesel engine is fueled by B20 biodiesel. The MSU team employed several emissions after-treatments to clean the diesel exhaust, including a diesel oxidation catalyst, diesel particulate filter and urea SCR system.

THE TEAM'S VEHICLE gets about 38 mpg — a 48% fuel economy improvement over the stock vehicle. With the improved fuel economy and use of biofuel, the MSU Equinox uses 50% less petroleum than a stock model.

In searching for the best fuelfor the vehicle, the team chose a soy-based biodiesel fuel because it creates less harmful emissions, is renewable and can be made from local sources.

For the Challenge X competition, the fuel used was a blend of 80% ultra-low-sulfur diesel and 20% soy-based biodiesel (B20). The blend used in the Challenge X competition can operate in most diesel engines without engine modifications.

At the 2007 Challenge X competition at the General Motors proving grounds in Milford, MI, the MSU team placed first overall, and also won in several other categories.

For more information contact Amanda McAlpin (amcalpin@cavs.msstate.edu or 662-325-5562). The team's Web site is www.msuchallengex.org.