Fast thinking – Low carbon racing cars
Whilst Lewis Hamilton will be the one to watch at this year’s British Grand Prix, student engineers who have designed and built low carbon racing cars will be hoping to follow in his footsteps as they take part in the Formula Student competition.
Teams from across the world have entered the competition, which is backed by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and takes place at Silverstone the weekend after the British Grand Prix. This year, for the first time, there is a category for cars powered by low carbon fuel.
Formula Student is a competition for students, which is all about building future engineering talent, and there are five different classes that can be entered. Those taking part design and manufacture a single-seater racing car.
Among the teams entering cars in the low carbon fuel category are the University of Hertfordshire with a hydrogen-powered car and Oxford Brookes University with a Parallel Hybrid.
Robin McGill, chief executive of the IET, said: “Environmentally friendly fuels are the fuels of the future and it’s for this very reason that the IET has pushed to have a low carbon vehicle category in the competition. We have been a partner in Formula Student for three years and recognise the vital role the competition plays in promoting careers and excellence in engineering.“
With three weeks to go, both teams are gearing up for the challenge.
It is the 11th car that the University of Hertfordshire has entered in the competition. The team of nine students, who are all final year MSc students, is looking to build on the previous years’ results of 7th and 5th.
The Hertfordshire car is hydrogen powered with an adapted 250cc internal combustion engine.
Leader of the Hertfordshire team, Prof. Howard Ashe, said: “The students are keen to take part in the competition as they are only too aware that it provides them with hard to come by real world practical and business skills. It helps them to gain valuable team working and individual skills. It also gives them an appreciation of real world skills.
“Now that their exams are over, the team are working all day, every day, including working into the night, to ensure the car is fit for purpose for its launch on 3 July.”
The Oxford Brookes team is entering an electric powered parallel hybrid car. The team is led by James Larminie and it’s the seventh year that the university has taken part in the competition. Made up of undergraduate and postgraduate students, the team is currently busy putting the finishing touches to the car.
James said: “The Formula Student competition ticks all the right boxes. It’s not just about having the fastest car; it is also about design and building the car. It is a good balance of theory and practical work.”
Formula Student takes place at Silverstone over four days from 10 – 13 July.