Wednesday, May 18, 2011
VIDEO: Perodua Eco Challenge update: USM
Spaceframe route for USM
Twice champion setting conservative target after rule change
The all-new rules of the 2011 Perodua Eco Challenge is giving even the best teams a big headache but it seems they are relishing the extra work required to complete the project.
Twice champion of the Perodua Eco Challenge, automatic transmission category, Universiti Sains Malaysia is busy preparing the final design and specifications of their machine when we visited them last week.
Professor Horizon Gitano- Briggs said that the new rules require a lot more time to fulfill but they are making so with the available schedule and pressing ahead with the design at hand. VIDEO after the jump.
" In the past what we had to do was strip the car down to bare chassis and concentrate our efforts on optimising the engine to suit the needs of the competition but this year we have to design, develop and build an entirely new chassis and still have to work on the engine.
"Ideally we would need one year to design, develop and build the chassis but we don't have that luxury of time,"said Professor Gitano-Briggs.
Goh Chin Yuan, the Mechanical enginnering Masters student in charge of the chassis design said that hey are opting for a spaceframe design for the vehicle as it provides maximum strength at minimum weight.
He explained that the design they are working on is for a rear-engined, rear-wheel drive racer of compact proportions.
Goh said that the dimensions have been optimised for their driver, a relatively small-framed person.
"We are opting to use square section mild steel tubes for the construction of the race car because it is easier to work with compared to round section tubes.
At the moment the team is using shelfing support to represent the tube sections of the spaceframe in order to check and make sure none of the sections interfere with the other parts.
"We expect to start building the spaceframe in one week's time and have the complete chassis ready by the first week of June," Goh said.
The chassis was designed on the computer using Solid Works software that can calculate the various stresses affecting each chassis component.
Goh said that they have tried to minimise the weight of the spaceframe without compromising the strength of the chassis.
"The rules say that the minimum weight of the whole car should be 300 kilogrammes and as it stands the spaceframe alone will weigh around 70 kilos while the total weight of the vehicle would be around 350 kilos and we are quite happy with that," Goh added.
In terms of engine development, the team believes that the 350kg car they are building needs about 2-kilowatts but they are giving themselves some margin and will modify the engine to generate about 7kW of power to allow for strong acceleration after braking into corners.
"In essence we are using much of the knowledge developed from last year's competition. We will be deactivating some cylinders and refining what we learnt last year, said Horizon-Briggs.
Lee Jih Houh, the post-graduate student in charge of engine development said that they are working on several ideas such as refining the cam profile and the electronic control unit.
However the team suffered some setback recently when their engine dynamometer was damaged by a faulty controller that allowed the engine they were testing to spin out of control.
"We are waiting for spares to repair the dyno so we can continue with engine testing and optimising.
"Since we are not allowed to use last year's engine, we will have to apply last year's knowledge to the new powertrain unit that Perodua gave to all the teams taking part this year.
"We hope to have the engine modifications ready at about the same time as the completion of the spaceframe chassis," Lee added.
On the whole the team is aiming to achieve much better fuel economy than last year and although they are quite guarded about revealing their goals, we understand that they are aiming to achieve between 60 and 100 kilometres per litre.
The finals of the Perodua Eco Challenge will be held in July and 12 local universities and institutions of higher learning will take part this year.