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At a time when modernisation has led to unbridled overuse of natural resources, putting them at serious risk of depletion, the key is to deal with two conflicting objectives that pose a great challenge to initiatives focused on mitigating climate hazards: generating more energy, while simultaneously producing less carbon-dioxide (CO2).
This is where competitive platforms such as Shell Eco-Marathon(SEM) come into play, inviting bright young minds to huddle and come up with ways to replace the depleting natural resources with fuel-efficient alternatives.
Under The Make the Future festival, engineering students participate and showcase energy ideas and innovations that address the global energy crisis.
The inaugural Shell Eco-marathon Asia was held in 2010 in Malaysia and teams from India have been participating in the event since then. The ninth edition of the competition will see student teams from across Asia-Pacific and West Asia put their self-built fuel-efficient vehicles to the test on a custom-built track.
In the 2018 Shell Eco-Marathon, to be held in Singapore from March 8-11, twelve teams from some of India’s topmost engineering colleges will be participating and demonstrating their vision for fuel-efficient technologies in their concept cars. Teams from India have earlier won the off-track ‘Perseverance and Team Spirit Award' in 2016 and 2017.
The DTU E-Supermileage CERAUN prototype
One such team participating for the first time this year is the DTU E-Supermileage, a group of 35-40 students from Delhi Technological University. It is one of the 12 teams from India that has qualified for the second phase of Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2018. Other shortlisted teams from India include the Indian Institute of Technology, SRM University, Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) University, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani among others.
After qualifying the India leg of the ongoing SEM, Team DTU will now compete in the Drivers’ World Championship Asia in March. This event will put the most energy-efficient student teams in Asia in a race to determine who the fastest energy-efficient driver is. The winner will then go on to represent Asia in the Drivers’ World Championship Global Final in London.
Talking to Business Standard about the DTU E-Supermileage and the team’s journey so far, team manager Chaitanya Wadhwa said, “All team members are from Delhi – a city infamous for having the most dangerous pollution levels in Asia. We therefore realised that we could put our engineering knowledge to good application by way of manufacturing feasible solutions to the problem in the form of an electric vehicle. Also, the Indian government’s decision to go all electric by 2030 only boosted our confidence, and we began developing the battery electric car in 2017.
We had been participating in the Gasoline Urban Concept category in the SEMAs since 2016. Hence, the experience gained at the previous Shell Eco-marathons gave us the confidence to participate in the new category of battery electric.”
Coming to the design and built of the vehicle prototype, the team said that their vehicle, CERAUN is a battery electric prototype running on Lithium-ion battery and a BLDC (Brushless DC) motor working with the help of a microcontroller. The chassis is made of Aluminum 7 series and its outer body is made of Carbon Fiber in-house for the first time in the team's history. The vehicle has been designed and manufactured keeping maximum manoeuvrability and minimum coefficient of drag in mind and was finalised after deliberations due to the Rule book and trials and test runs.
The team claims that the use of carbon fibre in the battery-run car's body is a major differentiating factor. Wadhwa explains, “A flexible fabric-like material, when combined with a polymer, carbon fibre can be moulded into the shape of a car part that is stronger and lighter than today's steel and aluminium parts. Combine this with the microcontroller in our car, and you get a vehicle that can attain a considerably high mileage and fast speed.”
Apart from aiming to win the competition at an international level, the student team of DTU also aims for optimum utilisation of the battery vehicle in the long run as a healthy and potential alternative to fuel. The competition is a path to achieve their longer goals by contributing to the shift in the clean energy automation space. The team said that they see a future with sustainable and pollution-free modes of transportation in the form of Battery electric or Hydrogen fuel vehicles.
The team also added that they believe in the power of collaboration to drive progress through clean and sustainable energy solutions and therefore seek to work together for a brighter and cleaner future, by applying our minds to innovate and build mobility solutions that will contribute to making the country a better place to live.