Students from the University of Strathclyde have designed and built a prototype electric vehicle in a bid to win a European energy efficiency competition.
‘Clyde 3’ is a three-wheeled, battery-powered vehicle built from aluminium bars with an attached carbon fibre shell. The car is around three metres long and one metre wide and is also a single seater.
The University of Strathclyde Eco-Vehicle (USEV) team, made up of around 50 undergraduate students, designed the vehicle to take part in the annual Shell Eco-Marathon competition – hosted at Mercedes-Benz World in Surrey next month.
Shell Eco-Marathon is a global programme for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) students to design energy efficient cars and showcase their abilities. The programme encourages thousands of students to work collaboratively in their university teams to put their theories of energy efficiency to the test, using cutting-edge technology, critical thinking and innovative ideas.
Competitors use a wide range of energy types, spanning from petrol and diesel to electric batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.
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Strathclyde team captain, Martin Riis, explained: “We’re a relatively new team and have only been operating for three years and are taking part in the European strand of the competition. The first couple of days will have the cars put through technical inspections to test if they are roadworthy and safe to go out on the track.
“In our first year, we didn’t pass the technical inspections and just missed going out on the track.”
In last year’s competition, the Strathclyde team did make it onto the track and achieved an impressive efficiency rating of 130km/kWh, which is the equivalent of 2,700mpg (miles-per-gallon). Riis added that the team is eager to surpass last year’s achievements.
“We’ve made some technical advances and are really proud that we’ve been able to work with a local company on creating a highly efficient motor,” Riis commented. One of the main objectives of Clyde’s design this year is to ensure the car is as lightweight and aerodynamic as possible to reduce energy losses.
As part of the competition, the car will have to complete a set number of laps within a set time. There will also be an energy meter installed inside the car that measures the amount of power it uses per kilometre. Through this, the efficiency of the vehicle is measured.
The majority of the Strathclyde team are engineering students. However, team members studying computer science, chemistry and business are also represented. Riis explained that team members have already reaped the benefits of being involved in the project – with some having secured internships and jobs at top companies.
“We’ve got some students that have gone into jobs and internships in prominent engineering and automotive companies including Scottish Power, McLaren and Volvo.”