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Romain Lejas, ofPhoto by Marianne Lavelle Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France, works on InfinitiX, the team’s entry in Shell Eco-marathon 2012 this week in Rotterdam. Last year, the team achieved 454 kilometers per liter (1,067 miles per gallon), and this year sought to reduce weight more.

The car is entered in the “prototype” category—these don’t have to be street-legal. Typically the students seek extremes in aerodynamics and light weight to reduce mileage in the race for the most fuel-efficient vehicle.

Lejas is in one of the student team “paddocks” at the huge Ahoy convention center.  More than 2,000 students from some 20 countries are here for the three-day competition that ends Saturday.