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UJ students head to London Eco-Marathon

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Eight University of Johannesburg (UJ) students from the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) are heading to London to compete in the Shell Eco-Marathon Europe 2016 from today (30 June 2016) until Sunday (3 July 2016).

The UJ team aims to ratchet up the performance of their custom-built electrical vehicle to 500km/kWh at the event.

The students will compete with about 250 to 300 university teams at the Shell Eco-Marathon Europe competition. The eco-marathon is designed for students to produce innovative solutions by using renewable and non-renewable resources by designing, manufacturing and building a car that will be highly fuel efficient for future transportation.

According to Dr Yuko Roodt, senior lecturer at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Science at UJ: “The UJ team’s first generation electrical vehicle was very efficient already. That car did 140 km/kwh. Meaning it could drive 140km on just one kilowatt of electricity, about the same power as using a microwave on medium for an hour. That vehicle won the 2014 African Shell Eco-Marathon at the Kyalami Raceway near Johannesburg.

“In 2015, the team built their second-generation electric vehicle and won the SA Shell Eco Marathon for the second time at Zwartkops. That time they got a result of 343.8 km/kWh, doubling their performance in a single year. That result placed the UJ team among the top teams internationally,” says Roodt.

The race track where the teams will be competing will be built around the Aquatic centre at the Olympic Stadium in London. UJ’s team is the first from South Africa that will be competing in the Shell Eco-Marathon Europe 2016competition.

Dr Roodt says: “A project like this provides students with the opportunity to learn and work on an intricate and complex project with many aspects from communication, administration, logistics, design, development, integration and testing. This is the culmination of all their studies. The Marathon really tests their engineering skills and ability to innovate.

“I’m very glad to have worked with such a motivated and hardworking group of students. We are very excited to go represent UJ and South Africa at this event.”

The UJ student team is Pieter Erasmus (team leader), Eduard Basson, Reginald Masher, Nicholas Harvey, Shalaka Thomas, Paul Lee, Ryan Coetzee and Marissa Erasmus.

For the London event, the students tweaked the performance of their case as follows:

* Combined 3D printing and composite technology.

* Developed a telemetry system that will be able to provide them with real time data as the car travels around the race track. The telemetry system is able to predict the best possible racing line and improve their race strategy with each attempt.

* A new steering mechanism and new vehicle chassis with improved strength and safety were designed.

* Reduced the weight of the car to 32kg.

* Implemented a novel propulsion system with improved freewheeling capability.

* Made use of composite technology such as fibre glass, carbon fibre and Kevlar.