3 June 2011
Participation in international construction competition for junior engineers
Students of Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences present their two racing cars – for the first time one of them contains an electric drive
Planned participation in “Formula Student Germany” on Hockenheimring as well as in Italy and Spain
Since October 2010, 55 students of Automotive Engineering, Mechatronics, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Business Administration and Engineering, and Technical Communication have jointly worked on the construction of two racing cars – one of them with a combustion engine F-105 - and the other one with an alternative electric drive system E-105. On Wednesday, 1 June 2011, the time had come: they were finally able to roll out both cars and present them to the public.
With their two racing bolides, the students of Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences will be participating in the construction competition “Formula Student Germany“ on Hockenheimring against other student teams from all over the world. In addition, as in previous years, they will also take part in the Formula Student competition in Italy, on the Autodromo Riccardo Paletti in Varano de´ Melegari (in Parma). It will be their first time participating in the students’ race on the Formula 1 circuit in Barcelona.
In Germany, the competition is organized by the Association of German Engineers (VDI) and aims at giving future engineers practical experience under real conditions. Therefore, the students’ task is to develop a racing car prototype that would be suitable for small series production. “So the winner of the competition is not the team with the fastest car, but the one with the most convincing vehicle concept, including acceleration power and brake performance as well as design, handling, weight and production costs”, explains Project Manager Michael Mürken, who is currently studying Mechatronics in his 4th semester. This represents an extensive and complex challenge for the student teams, since their vehicles must be fast, maneuverable, reliable, safe, innovative, and inexpensive at the same time.
For the students that meant they first had to plan and coordinate the project in detail, since in addition to the actual construction of the racing car, marketing and financial planning were also important aspects. Engineering-specific challenges had to be met in order to develop the vehicle concepts of previous models further and integrate numerous new components.
Season 2011 is very special for the High Speed team: For the first time in the university’s racing history, the students have built a car with an electric drive system. Development work on the E-105 already began in March 2010 as “Project E”. First the students had to devise the electric drive system. To do so, they also had to develop a fully functional electric motor test stand. Based on these test series, they designed the drive system concept for the E-105. Two 30-kilowatt engines with a maximum rotational speed of 6,000 RPM are responsible for acceleration of the racing car, which translates to a performance of more than 80 HP. The motor controller was entirely developed by the students themselves and underwent extensive testing on the test stand. The engines are powered via a high performance battery with a nominal voltage of 330 V and a capacity of 5.6 kWh. “The capacity of our battery pack is about 8 times the battery capacity of a VW Golf”, comments Nicolas Steinwand, Computer Science student in the 1st semester and Head of the High Voltage team who developed the electric drive. When using such high voltages, safety is of course a major concern. “We’ve attended special courses for dealing with high voltage current and made sure that only authorized team members worked on the electric drive of the E-105”, adds Nicolas Steinwand.
The racing car with combustion engine, on this the Karlsruhe High Speed team has long-standing experience. The motor bike engine, with a cylinder capacity of 600 cc, has undergone technical optimization to reach over 90 PS. So in spite of its suction throttling, it provides the F-105 with the power required.
Although the two racing cars have completely different drives, they do have a lot in common. By making a few minor changes, the students could integrate the concepts for the frame, chassis and electronics in both vehicles. In order to make them as light as possible, this year’s students invested a lot of time in optimizing the shape of the components. “Virtual computer simulation was extremely helpful when it came to finding the optimum shape and weight and to shaving off a few pounds”, emphasizes Marc Schieß, Head of the Frame and Bodywork team and student in the 4th semester of the bachelor degree program Automotive Engineering.
Compared to the previous F-105 model, the team could shave off another 22 pounds and increase the rigidity of the frame, which makes the racing car much more stable. “We were also able to considerably improve the chassis, so now we hope to achieve high placements in the competitions”, says Philip Nagel, Mechatronics student in the 4th semester and Head of the Chassis and Suspension team which designed the chassis.
Motivated by the success earned in previous years, this year’s students want to shoot for a placement among the top ten. After having presented their vehicles to the public, they are now waiting to compare them internationally at Hockenheimring, at the beginning of August. They are in good spirits, in spite of the past stressful weeks: “To us building two racing cars, including our own new concepts and having the possibility to take part in an international construction competition already feels like a small victory”, says Melanie Thüsing, in the 6th semester of the bachelor degree program Technical Communication. Project Manager Gaurav Sharma adds: “This project has given students from different faculties the opportunity to put their theory and knowledge into practice, bring in their ideas and skills and work towards a common goal.”
The successful completion of the project was, in no small part, thanks to the cross-divisional collaboration and the students’ self-organization. “The combination of high quality and strong practical relevance is a central element of our university’s educational concept and the results presented today – the two racing cars our students designed and constructed – are proof of how quickly our students are capable of putting what they’ve learned into practice”, emphasizes the President, Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz-Meisel.
For more information on this project, visit the German-language pages http://www.highspeed-karlsruhe.de.