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Buckeye Bullet 3 to be fastest ever

Joe Podelco / Lantern photographer

A group of Ohio State students are combining their technical skills to create a land-speed racer that will reach 400 mph.

The Buckeye Bullet 3, with a team composed of 12 active members and eight volunteers, including both undergraduate and graduate students, is about six months away from completion, said David Cooke, a seventh-year in mechanical engineering and team leader. Cooke said the ultimate goal is for the Buckeye Bullet 3 to be the fastest wheel-driven vehicle.

Built by students, creators hope the Buckeye Bullet 3 will be ready to race by August 2013. The building will start within the next few months.

The team began calculations and looking at prototypes of the vehicle at the OSU Center for Automotive Research. Cooke said team members typically spend 20 to 40 hours per week at the CAR, but have also spent as much as 80 to 100 hours at the facility.

OSU is currently the only university to compete in these record-breaking events.

“There’s a lot of engineering student project teams, but none of them are breaking world records,” said Cary Bork, a second-year graduate student in mechanical engineering and graduate leader of the Buckeye Bullet team.

Bork has been involved with the team since his undergraduate studies at OSU.

“The only thing that we’re carrying over from the previous vehicle is the driver and tires,” Bork said.

The driver is Roger Schroer, a professional race car driver and driver trainer at Honda in Marysville, Ohio.

Don Butler, an adviser for the Buckeye Bullet, said he never touches a wrench and that he has nothing to do with building the vehicle.

Butler said his job is to help with buying parts and making arrangements for the team.

Buckeye Bullet also has a tech adviser who supports and provides input but doesn’t do much more than challenge and question students, Butler said.

Buckeye Bullet continues a legacy of 19 years of electric racing at OSU. Since its beginning, OSU has produced the Buckeye Bullet 1, Buckeye Bullet 2 and Buckeye Bullet 2.5.

Buckeye Bullet 1 was a battery-operated car that competed against other schools. In 2001, the competition aspect ended, but OSU continued to expand. It holds the record as the world’s fasted nickel–metal hydride battery vehicle at 315 mph.

The second car, Buckeye Bullet 2, was a hydrogen fuel cell, mainly due to timing and research interest, Cooke said. The vehicle was still electric but powered instead through converting hydrogen chemical energy into electrical energy without operating batteries. At 303 mph, it holds a FIA World Record as the world’s fastest hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

OSU’s team switched back to battery technology for the Buckeye Bullet 3 due to “leaps and bounds in battery technology in the last five years,” Cooke said.

Buckeye Bullet 3 is four-wheel drive, each axle having about one mega-watt of power, totaling 2600 horsepower with the front and back combined, Cooke said.

This horsepower is tested in the Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah in August, where racers try and beat both national and international records.

“(Our program) is pretty high quality stuff and definitely an engineering effort that your average individual doesn’t have so we draw a lot of attention,” Cooke said. “Thousands of people come by the pits and we really try to show them not just what we’ve done with the vehicle, but what we’ve learned as engineers at Ohio State to make the vehicle as fast, as safe, as reliable as possible.”

Cooke hopes by the time the new vehicle is built, the team will have brought up enough younger students who can take over the program in years to come.

“Most of our Buckeye Bullet team members are entertaining job offers easily a year before they graduate because they are the cream of the crop as far as engineering students and students that have practical experience in solving real world problems from a technical nature,” Butler said. “These students are highly sought after.”

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