PLYMOUTH, Mich., Jan. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 Supermileage®competition. 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: http://students.sae.org/competitions/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.
About Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies
Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies is the Americas joint venture between Freudenberg and Company in Germany and NOK Corporation in Japan. Founded in 1989 under the legal name Freudenberg-NOK General Partnership, Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies is a leading producer of advanced sealing and elastomeric technologies for a variety of industries including automotive, aerospace, appliance, diesel engine, agriculture, construction, heavy industry, and alternate energy. Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies is headquartered in Plymouth, Mich., and has facilities throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Malaysia. With annual revenues approaching $US 1 billion, the company employed approximately 4,700 people in 2011. For additional information, please visit www.freudenberg-nok.com.
Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies is part of the Freudenberg & Co. Group of Germany. Freudenberg & Co. is a family of companies specializing in seals and vibration control technology, nonwovens, filtration, lubricants and release agents and other specialty business areas. The Freudenberg Group generated sales of more than $7.8 billion and had 37,000 employees in 2011. For additional information, please visit www.freudenberg.com.
SOURCE Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies