Fantastic news, a second Irish team have qualified for the global finals of the 2008 Imagine Cup finals in Paris next month.

The team, which is called AcidRain, hail from NUI Maynooth and they have qualified with a project which enables diesel engined cars to use vegatable oil as fuel. 

As part of their entry they plan to drive their car to the Imagine Cup World Finals in Paris this July fuelled by sunflower oil!

Now in its sixth year, the Imagine Cup challenges students to "imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment".

While most fuel conversion kits require a second fuel tank, which takes up boot space, and also manual switches, making them both expensive and inconvenient. These traditional approached also require the vehicle to start up on diesel and then switch over to vegetable oil once the engine is at operating temperature. Team AcidRain is building an optimized, embedded conversion kit which offers a novel solution to the problem of reducing carbon emissions through enabling plant oil powered engines. They have set out to create a “one size fits all” kit. This embedded solution will convert any diesel engine to run on any plant oil whether it be olive oil, rapeseed oil or sunflower oil to name but a few!

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Aodhan Coffey, is a member of the Acidrain team and his brother Cathal was part of the NUI Maynooth team that represented Ireland at last year's finals.  He said, “We’re delighted to have been chosen to represent Ireland in such a prestigious competition. My brother, Cathal, was part of NUI Maynooth team last year and won a prize at the Imagine Cup World Finals. He made the trip to Silicon Valley and even got to meet Bill Gates. As a team we can’t wait to take on the challenge of driving the car to Paris and when we ‘hopefully’ make it there we can’t wait to win! We’d like to thank Microsoft for giving us this opportunity.”

This is the second year that Ireland has hosted a national Imagine Cup competition.  It attracted entries from Universities, third level colleges and Institutes of Technology across the country with over 520 students registered for the competition from colleges, north and south of the border. Students from Sligo IT have also won a place in the Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals for their project ParkIT.

ParkIT are proposing an application which enables the provision of real time parking information. Using cameras and software, it monitors car park spaces and can determine when a space vacant. This information would then be sent to a central database, which would be used to drive a real time parking information system that provides users with available parking data near their location on request.

Acidrain and ParkIT will now compete with students and projects from around the world at the final in France.  The overall prizes include a chance to Silicon Valley to take part in the Imagine Cup Innovation Accelerator.  It propels Imagine Cup software design champions into the next stage of developing their innovative ideas as a business.

The Microsoft Imagine Cup 2008 Gold sponsors are Enterprise Ireland and Riverdeep Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing. Other sponsors include Lenovo, Imag!ne Telecommunications and Lero, the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre.