Student-built solar car posted excellent results at Shell Eco-marathon in Germany
NTU's maiden participation at the annual Shell Eco-Marathon, held in Germany from 7 to 9 May 2009, reaped a good harvest. Nanyang Venture I, the solar car designed and built by a student team, fought against tough competition and produced very credible results. It came in fourth in the Prototype (Solar) Group competition (out of 8 in that category), and garnered second prize of the ‘Safety Award’ in the 'Special Awards' category.
The 3.5 m by 1.3 m by 0.9 m car is the combined effort of over 20 MAE and EEE undergraduate students. The team is led by Associate Professor Ng Heong Wah, with support from Associate Professor David Butler of MAE, and Associate Professor Don Mahinda Vilathgamuwa of EEE. Eight members of the team together with Associate Professor Ng and two technicians attended the race held at the EuroSpeedway in Lausitz, Germany.
The challenge in the Shell Eco-marathon is to produce a vehicle that travels the farthest distance with a fixed amount of fuel. Nanyang Venture I, powered by solar cells which are the components in solar panels responsible for converting the sun's energy to electricity, did very well with a result of 108km per kilowatt for its best run.
The jury said that it was a "remarkable achievement for a team which has participated in the Shell Eco-marathon Europe for the first time this year". The jury was especially impressed by several special features of Nanyang Venture I, which include an automatic emergency battery shut-down in case of an overload, an integral driver safety system to protect the driver in case of frontal impact, and a cooling system for the battery to prevent overheating.
"Building a solar car was tough and challenging work, for the students and me, but it was worth every moment", said Professor Ng. "One of the most challenging problems happened a week before the car was due to be shipped to Germany, the motor controller burnt up during a road test. We didn't have a spare. With the help of the motor suppliers in Japan and Taiwan, new motors came just in time to go into the crate. It was a valuable lesson—always keep spares."
For the students, it was an enriching experience, allowing them to put into practice what they have learnt in the classroom. "The design and building of Nanyang Venture I is an interesting platform for me to apply solid engineering skills that I have learnt," said Hon Shah Kiat, an Aerospace Engineering undergraduate. As for Shaun Tan Ji Sheng, a Mechanical Engineering undergraduate, the experience he has gained from the trip to Germany "would never have been possible in an ordinary classroom environment".
The team is very encouraged by the results and looks forward to improving the car for next year's Shell Eco-marathon to be held in Sepang, Malaysia.
Heartiest congratulations to the students and faculty of the MAE-EEE team!
Left to right:
A/P Ng Heong Wah (MAE), Ho Weiming Derek (MAE), Tan Yean Chan Sean (MAE), Hon Shah Kiat (MAE), Liang Weixi (MAE), Alson Tan Tze Ming (MAE), Dennis Tanoko Ardi (MAE), Sudhanshu Ahuja (EEE), *Teo Tiong Seng (EEE), *Sa’Don Bin Ahmad (MAE) and Tan Ji Sheng Shaun (MAE)