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Gadomski School ofEngineering

CO2 Car Competition

Cars, airplanes, and rockets all have engines that work by converting chemical energy into mechanical energy. Exercise your chemical and mechanical engineering potential by designing a vehicle powered by baking soda and vinegar. The one that goes the farthest wins!

Baking soda and vinegar combine to produce carbon dioxide gas. If the CO2 is directed through a nozzle, the thrust produced by the nozzle may be used to move a vehicle (car, sled, etc.). Your vehicle must transport “cargo” (a raw chicken egg) without damaging the cargo, in a specified direction, and over a hard surface such as asphalt, tile, concrete, or brick. The test course may be slightly inclined or uneven, but it will have no drop-offs or ditches. It may be outdoors and therefore subject to wind, moisture, small debris, etc.

Each team will be assigned two times for their tests to be performed. The times will be determined the week before the competition and you will be notified of the times.During each test the team will be given two cups of vinegar and ½ cup of baking soda. They may divide the vinegar and baking soda (separately, no reactions!) into any number of red solo cups provided by CBU, and place them in the preparation area. They also place the vehicle anywhere inside the starting area. Staff will instruct the team when to begin and start a timer. At this time the team puts the baking soda and vinegar into their vehicle. When the vehicle has completely crossed the exterior of the starting line, staff will stop the timer. The linear distance from the middle of the starting line to the closest point on the vehicle to the starting line is the distance recorded. Each team is allowed one “do over” per test, but the new time and distance will be recorded, NOT THE BEST! If the cargo is damaged or doesn’t remain in the vehicle the linear distance will be divided by 2.


  1. Maximum team size: 3
  2. Design and build their own vehicle. Published designs or purchased kits are not permitted. Components of the vehicle, e.g., wheels, may be taken from models or toys, but they must be combined in such a way to create a new vehicle.
  3. There are no restrictions on the size or weight of the vehicle.
  4. Vehicle must remain in contact with the ground.
  5. The cargo must arrive unmarked and undamaged.
  6. An open top loading basket must be provided to insert the cargo.
  7. Vehicles must be self-contained. No sort of starting block or launch pad may be used.
  8. Vehicle must remain within +-20 degrees from the center of the starting line

Judging Criteria:

  • The cargo will be raw Grade A Large size chicken egg supplied by CBU.
  • Scoring: (Linear Distance 1 + Linear Distance 2)/(Prep Time 1 + Prep Time 2)