The Girton Racing Team recently arrived home from the 2018 Shell Eco-Marathon (Asia), which took place at the Changi Exhibition Centre in Singapore, from March 8 – 11. The team enjoyed a rich experience that involved stepping outside of their comfort zones and pushing their capabilities beyond expectations.
The group came away with an outstanding result with their new Lucas Kirby (Old Girtonian 2016) designed battery/electric vehicle. They achieved an overall 6th place with an efficiency score of 243.8 km per kilowatt hour. When equated to the energy value of unleaded petrol, the result was a staggering 2364.9 km per litre, compared to last year’s vehicle which achieved only 500.6 km per litre for 9th place; a truly massive quantum leap in efficiency terms from only 12 months ago.
The vehicle, Incharge, was designed to be lighter and with much less aerodynamic drag when compared to last year’s build. The mechanical drive-line was simplified, with new technology implemented to create a more efficient and stronger machine. The team was confident going into the event, however upon arrival they were faced with a range of newfound issues affecting the motor controller circuits. Being new technology, it was not entirely flawless and the team worked tirelessly over two days until the vehicle was ready to be put under scrutiny in the Technical Inspection. This inspection was a requirement for all vehicles before they are permitted onto the racetrack. To put the competition into perspective, there were 124 teams, mainly universities, of which 8 did not pass technical inspection and a further 15 were not able to produce a valid run, further testament to the difficulty of the event. The team passed all tests with the full 12 points with little difficulty, further reinforcing the quality of the vehicle presented.
Passing Technical inspection allowed the vehicle to be taken to the track, however the team knew that further efficiency improvements could be made and set out to implement these. Once the vehicle was functional and up to the high standard of the team, it was taken to the track and tested over the required 9 laps (10.08 km) in a maximum of 25 minutes. Upon completion of this attempt, the team continued to improve the vehicle with the intent of achieving a better efficiency score than the first attempt. The second attempt did not bring about a better result and the team sought to find out why. After several hours, the team was ready for their next attempt. This would be their final attempt and the team had everything in place to beat their best score. The vehicle entered the track and shortly after, the joule meter, (the device that measures the electrical energy consumed by the vehicle) became dislodged and began rubbing against the rear tyre, creating just enough resistance to noticeably affect the efficiency of the vehicle.
The dedicated team of nine students collaborated to overcome problems and succeed in getting the vehicle to run to the maximum 9 laps in all three attempts on the track. The team, led by Mr Rod Smith, Mr Robin Kirby (Team Manager) and Mr Lucas Kirby (Former student), consists of Harrison Morley (driver), Connor McCaig (co-driver), Amos Walz, Jack Edwards, Jackson Dolman, Jagan Woods, Jarrod Slot, Karl Ferrari and Rob Wood. All members left the event with heads held high, proud of their personal and group achievement. Being the only Australian high school team, the engineering talents they presented were above and beyond the expectations of any Year 11 or 12.
The Shell Eco-Marathon has inspired and motivated the team members to further pursue their passions in this field. It shines a light on the importance of considering new ideas and innovations around energy and it’s efficient use.