NTU students behind NTU Venture 9 design on race day (via NTU)
While some students are busy doing keg-stands, others are designing the first-ever solar-powered 3D-printed racecar. That’s what students at the Nanyang Technological University spent the past year doing, and it paid off. The record-breaking solar race car won first place in two categories at Shell’s Eco Marathon Asia last weekend.
The initial project was simple. Sixteen undergraduate engineering students from various backgrounds were commissioned to design something using a 3D printer and flexible solar panels, from scratch. Over the course of a year the students designed not one, but two solar-powered, 3D-printed cars that push the envelope of the possibilities of fuel-efficiency.
NTU Venture 8 (left) and Venture 9 (right) (via NTU)
The first car is titled the NTU Venture 8. It is an urban concept car and its cockpit was constructed using 150 3D-printed plastic parts, to maintain a lightweight composure. The car itself has vertical opening doors and is fitted with flexible solar panels that move with the car as it turns, to maximize efficiency at an impressive 37mph. The car is fully electric and wowed judges at Shell’s Eco Marathon Asia.
NTU design team with NV8 and NV9 (via NTU)
The second car the team made was titled the NTU Venture 9 (we know, very creative). The solar-powered micro-car is a low-to-the-ground electric three-wheeler that runs on hand-made silicon solar panels. The hand-made panels move with the car as it turns too, allowing it to maintain speed on turns. With this, the tiny racecar also features a huge curved windshield and nose to make it exceptionally aerodynamic.
While the cars gained a lot of press because of their ingenuity (as they were designed entirely from scratch and not based on previous models), they were wildly successful at the Shell Marathon. The NV9 was up against 124 teams from 16 countries and won first place in both innovation and fuel-efficiency. The car also came in fourth for speed after an on-track race and was awarded fifth place for safety. The NV8 was also unveiled on race day and the crowd was impressed with the NTU team’s creativity.
The purpose behind the NTU project was to take a novel approach on fuel efficiency. Despite Shell’s fuel interests, the premise behind the Eco Marathon Asia is actually meant to challenge participants to push the boundaries of possible distance travelled with minimal fuel resources. Participants were only allowed to use electric battery, ethanol, diesel, bio-diesel, hydrogen and petrol fuels to power their concept cars and awards were given to teams who exhibited the highest levels of fuel efficiency. The competition has run in Asia since 2010, and was organized in Europe even earlier.
The NTU is not stranger to Shell’s Eco Marathon. It’s competed in five of them already, and NTU engineering students have even travelled internationally for the opportunity to showcase its alternative energy ingenuity. Recently, students competed in Australia’s biennial World Solar Challenge, and beat Cambridge, UC Berkeley and MIT teams. The small school packs and punch and will continue to enhance its alternative fuel technologies.
Maybe one day we can expect the see the NTU Venture 8 in the consumer market, along with the other urban concept cars from Shell’s competitions. Until then, we’ll see Shell when we fill up.
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