3,000 MPG? Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies Helps U of M Supermileage Team Push Ultimate Fuel Efficiency


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- Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies (FNST) has become a primary sponsor of the University of Michigan (U of M) College of Engineering's SupermileageŽ Team.

- FNST will offer financial and professional resources to the U of M team to help members build their next high mileage vehicle.

- FNST is aggressively pursuing fuel saving technologies and will offer these technologies to the U of M team.

- Collaboration is a foundation on which FNST conducts business. The U of M partnership will help FNST work with some of the best new minds in engineering.

PLYMOUTH, MI--Jan. 31, 2013: Sitting off a main road that runs through U of M's North Campus in Ann Arbor is a large industrial garage with an impossibly bright roof. On a recent windy afternoon, four engineering students sit in one of the building's mechanical bays staring at a car.

The car is a virtual pod, a one-occupant carbon fiber shell balanced on three wheels. It has just enough room for a small driver, small engine and somewhat touchy steering system. The students, members of U of M's Supermileage Team, acknowledge that their next vehicle will brag improvements, including better steering.

But steering may be secondary because the real challenge these students face is how to squeeze more than 3,000 miles from a single gallon of fuel. The team is one of the newest participating in the SAE International's Supermileagecompetition. As one of its primary sponsors, FNST is offering the financial and professional resources needed to cross the finish line.

"We regularly collaborate with industry partners to develop technologies that address issues like fuel economy and powertrain efficiency," said Dr. Luis Lorenzo, vice president, Advanced Product Engineering, FNST. "Our partnership with U of M's Supermileage Team allows us to build communications and collaboration with the next generation of engineers. It's a fundamental part of our approach to leadership and future growth."

FNST's sponsorship is also fundamental to the U of M team. Not only will the students benefit from professional assistance provided by Mike Rowe, FNST strategic product development manager, Technology, and Rory Pawl, FNST director, Future Technology, they will also tap into some of company's most advanced component technologies.

Among the FNST products that Rowe has identified for use on the Supermileage Team's new car are ultra-low friction crankshaft seals, self-fusing silicone tape for electrical connections, cable management and emergency repairs, new body seals, low friction valve stem seals, and even bearing grease and mold release agents from Freudenberg sister companies Kluber Lubrication and Chem-Trend.

"This program is a great fit with the kinds of research and development activities our company is pursuing," Rowe said. "We regularly seek breakthroughs in fuel economy technology. This program will allow us to tap into innovations and frankly, is going to be a lot of fun."

"We're new to engineering and working with a top-notch company like Freudenberg is extremely helpful in clarifying our ideas and discussing technologies," concurred David Coons, a mechanical engineering student and the team's chief engineer. "When we're not sure how to do something, they fill in the gaps and offer us advice and guidance."

The SAE International Supermileage competition requires university engineering and technology students to develop and construct a single-person, fuel efficient vehicle powered by a four-cycle engine. Vehicles run a specified course and the vehicle that obtains the highest miles per gallon rating, in combination with design points, wins the challenge. All of the vehicles are powered by a one-cylinder, Briggs & Stratton engine that the teams uniquely modify to push efficiency and fuel savings.

The U of M team will test drive its 2013 car in April in the Shell Eco Marathon in Houston as a prelude to the SAE International Supermileage event taking place in Marshall, Mich. in June. More than 24 collegiate teams will participate in this year's race. For more information about the race, go to: SAE Student Supermileage Teamsites.

For their part, Coons and his teammates admit that their car will not be a blueprint for America's next family sedan. But the experience of pushing boundaries to achieve something they thought was impossible will remain with them throughout their lives, he said.

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