At the Changi Exhibition Centre yesterday, competitive racers suited up and revved their engines as team managers looked on.
But the teams were not gunning to be the fastest off the blocks. They were instead aiming to cover the farthest distance using the energy equivalent to 1 litre of fuel as part of the eighth Shell Eco-marathon Asia competition.
Launching the contest at the opening ceremony of the Shell Make The Future Singapore festival yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean described the search for sustainable urban solutions as urgent and requiring coordinated action. "Our universities and research institutes, companies and civil society can work closely together to drive the adoption of such urban solutions," he said.
Singapore supports these collaborations as urban solutions and sustainability are a priority area where there is a strong national need, DPM Teo added.
Mr Amrit Mirchandani Changaroth, manager of the National University of Singapore's squad at the eco-marathon, agreed.
"The vision for an energy-efficient and sustainable future is something we all share and would like to journey towards," said Mr Amrit, whose team had been working on an electric car that weighed only 77kg using carbon fibre since last July.
DPM Teo said that while there is already a scientific and research community doing cutting-edge work, companies can play their part by driving energy efficiency in their operations, and boosting the capabilities of their suppliers.
A third partner is civil society, which can help raise public awareness of the energy and climate change issues, and empower consumers to make informed choices and behavioural changes.
Besides the more than 120 international teams taking part in the eco-marathon, which ends tomorrow, secondary school students also competed to design energy-efficient solutions for future cities.
The Bright Ideas Challenge was won by a team of five students from Greenview Secondary School, who imagined a city where food waste was converted into energy in the absence of oxygen through micro organisms. "I feel like everything is too good to be true and did not expect this win," said team member Lindero Dianthe Marithe Lumagui, 16, a Secondary 3 student.