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Press kit updated 1 November 2019: click here to access on Google Drive
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Latest press releases
1st November 2019
Cambridge University students collaborate with F1 and supercar experts to create one of the world’s most energy efficient cars
A team of undergraduate students enlisted the support of Formula 1 engineering experts and the world’s largest tyre company to design and build a four-seat solar powered electric car which can travel from London to the Scottish Highlands at a speed of 50mph on the same power it takes to boil a kettle.
Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER) have just returned from their first international race with Helia – an epic 1,864-mile drive from Darwin to Adelaide as part of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.
The cutting edge vehicle pushes the boundaries of automotive battery technology, efficient tyres and aerodynamics, weighing only 550kg (1200lb) due to a specialist ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre chassis and body panels tooled by Portsmouth based Formaplex, a leading lightweight manufacturer for some of the world’s biggest Formula 1 teams and automotive companies producing multi million pound high-powered supercars.
Use of composites allowed the team to drastically reduce weight while maintaining structural integrity, allowing Helia to travel further and faster than would be possible with other materials.
Helia’s streamlined aerodynamic design and lightweight construction significantly enhance the overall energy efficiency, using power from high performance lithium-ion battery packs produced in collaboration with Silverstone-based Danecca. The battery pack has much higher energy density than most production vehicles, which gives Helia more than double the range of a Tesla Model 3, while being a quarter of the size.
Bridgestone, the world’s largest tyre and rubber company, also worked with the team to develop low rolling-resistance tyres.
Unfortunately, some early electrical issues prevented the team from progressing beyond the first stage of the grueling race, but the only British team in its category was placed third out of 13 by the judges in the practicality category, where Helia was marked against criteria including design, versatility and desirability.
Only arriving back in the UK in the last week, they are now looking ahead to other potential solar races in Europe and beyond, while considering some potential modifications to their vehicle.
Xiaofan Zhang, CUER’s Programme Director, said: “While the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge didn’t go exactly as we had hoped, it is still a tremendous achievement when you look back at the progress we have made over two years. The conditions this year were particularly challenging and this is the first time this model had competed. Nevertheless, Helia’s performance numbers showed her to be very competitive; it bodes extremely well for future events.
“Working with teams from Formaplex, Bridgestone and Danecca was a real step-change for CUER in the overall research, design and manufacture process. It’s allowed us to share expertise and improve the efficiency of the overall vehicle.
“Many of our partners are world leaders in automotive engineering, R&D and high value manufacturing but are not necessarily household names. The UK has an abundance of this expertise and we have been very fortunate to leverage their capabilities in Helia.”
“Helia was designed to demonstrate the technology behind electric vehicles and renewable energy and will visit schools next summer with the aim of inspiring the next generation of engineers. We have plenty of positives to take forward and are already in search of our next challenge.”
Matt Sellens, Sales Director at Formaplex, said: “We knew the team’s biggest focus had to be reducing the weight of their vehicle in order to increase its overall range. Using our experience developed over almost 20 years of working with cutting edge motorsport teams and supercar manufacturers, we fed into their design process and created the mould tooling, a special mould to produce a highly durable but ultra-light carbon fibre weight chassis.
“Our engineers designed, machined and sealed the moulds, then worked with the student team to laminate layers of carbon fibre in the moulds to create the chassis and body panels. The assemblies were then autoclave cured. The resulting product is fantastic and a real showcase of our lightweighting capabilities in manufacturing and tooling.”
19th August 2019
Cambridge University students unveil the UK’s Most Efficient Electric Car
Cambridge – UK, August 19th 2019
A team of 20 undergraduate students from Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER) have unveiled a 4-seat solar powered electric car at the London Science Museum.
The team have created the vehicle as an exciting demonstration of current electric vehicle and renewable energy technology with the aim of inspiring the next generation of engineers and STEM students.
Over the last two years, the team of young engineers from CUER, a student society at the University, have collaborated with the top automotive companies and experts in the UK to develop and manufacture their new vehicle, “Helia”.
Xiaofan Zhang the team’s Programme Director commented: “CUER was founded in 2008 and built Affinity, a very large single seat road legal solar car that drove from Lands’ End to John O’Groats.
Now, just 10 years later it’s incredible to see how Electric Vehicle technology has developed so far in such a short space of time. These innovations have allowed us to build a four seat car that is much faster, more efficient and practical.”
As a result of these cutting-edge collaborations the team vehicle boasts some impressive figures including:
- Being able to drive with four occupants at 80kph (50mph) using just the power of a kettle.
- Having a single-charge range of over 900km even without using the solar cells, an equivalent of a London to Edinburgh trip.
- Helia’s battery allows for more than double the range of a Tesla, whilst being a quarter of the size.
- Achieving a motorway capable top speed.
“Currently there is a lot of news about the decline of the UK’s automotive industry but working with our partners has shown us that there is a very strong network of automotive companies.
Many of our partners are world leaders in automotive engineering, R&D and high value manufacturing but are not necessarily household names.
The UK has an abundance of this expertise and we have been very fortunate to leverage their capabilities in Helia.”
The team are currently preparing to take Helia to the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia, where they will undertake a gruelling 3000 km competition across the Outback against teams from across the planet, this October 13th to 20th.
CUER is targeting a podium finish in the Cruiser Class – a race category where teams must build multiple occupancy vehicles that are practical, fast and efficient.
The toughest part of the competition this year includes a 1200km stretch which the team will need to complete in just 2 days without recharging from the grid, all whilst carrying four people on board.
Key Facts Summary:
- Battery range of 900km
- Top speed 120kph
- Carbon fibre chassis tub and carbon fibre body panels
- 550kg kerb weight
- 5 square metres of 25% efficient silicon solar cells on the roof
- Created by a team of 20 Cambridge University students working part time (one full time team member)
- Chargeable from a conventional electric vehicle charger
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