Friday, May 17, 2013 | By Great Energy Challenge | No Comments
At Shell Eco-marathon, many things go into the inspiration behind the design of the cars. One of the most popular things that influence car designers is the culture from their country. I was able to speak with members of the Ubicar 13 crew from Portugal’s Universidad de Corilha and talk about the pieces that made up their very unique car.
The car was pieced together with cork (a native Portuguese product), surrounded by coconut, and layered with coconut threads. The makeup of the car is very symbolic of their country, and according to them, very efficient also. They believed that the coconut threads create a dimple effect similar to that of a golf ball, which gives them good aerodynamics at lower speeds.
They also choose to make the entire car with flat pieces of cork, as opposed to rounded pieces like other cars use. This is also an aerodynamic trick that they hope to use to gain an edge on the competition. With over 200 countries represented this year, the Portuguese may not have had a bad idea to use a domestic approach for a better advantage.
The test session was carried out in poor weather with a wet track and a fair drizzle. The practice sessios was therefore primarily used to test the setup of the car and to allow our driver to familiarize herself with both the car and the track. The practice session allowed the team to make a total of three practice runs within the allotted practice time, and the test runs revealed that the car was working close to the team’s expectations.
During one of the practice runs, the car returned to the pits with a fuel consumption equivalent to 567 km/l, which is fairly close to the record set by the team last year. The car will now be fine-tuned in order to optimize it for its next test session tomorrow, and hopefully return an even better result. We are hoping that the weather for tomorrow’s test session will improve compared to today’s weather. If this is the case, the team can properly test different fuel-air mixtures to determine the most optimal solution for the car before the race itself. So it’s all-out fine-tuning for now…
Thursday, May 16, 2013 | By Great Energy Challenge | No Comments
DTU Roadrunners 2013: Full-on optimization.
In the 2012 edition of Shell Eco-marathon, the Danish team DTU Roadrunners and their ethanol powered Urban Concept car Dynamo won their class of the competition for the fourth time in row, with an average fuel consumption equivalent to 611 km/l if driving on ordinary petrol. This year the team and Dynamo are back to attempt to improve on last year’s result and push the limits of an ethanol powered car even further. The journey towards this year’s Eco-marathon has been both long and interesting, stressful and rewarding. This year’s version of the eco car Dynamo has been made lighter, more efficient and is the first DTU eco car to be constructed using 3D-printed parts. Instead of trying to design a completely new and innovative car, the team decided to focus on evolution rather than revolution. Last year’s design proved its worth in the 2012 edition of Shell Eco-marathon, but nevertheless, the team knew that the car still had some areas which could be improved on. Five focus areas were lined out for the new car:
Improve engine control and performance
Develop a carbon fiber monocoque
Development of carbon fiber rims
Develop a KERS-system (Kinetic Energy Recovery System)
Development of transmission
Improving engine control and performance
The redesigned engine prior to final mounting in the car. (Photograph by Mads Anders Jensen)
Between the 2012 and 2013 Eco Marathon, the team has worked intensely on improving its engine performance. Amongst the improvements is a completely new and redesigned crankshaft housing, a new clutch system and a new cylinder liner. The crankshaft housing has been redesigned to be a lighter, more compact construction, which has allowed the team to mount the engine lower in the car and closer to the cockpit. The redesigned crankshaft housing has also allowed the team to relocate the engine starter motor to a new position and fit a Bendix drive to the starter motor, in order to completely isolate the starter motor from the drive line when it is not in use. This means that less mechanical energy is wasted on overcoming friction within the driveline, and that the engine needs less power to drive the car forward. The result of the reduced resistance in the driveline is improved fuel consumption and engine performance due to the reduced mechanical loss. The repositioning of the engine also means that the team has been able to design a Kinetic Energy Recovery System, also referred to as KERS, to recover energy while breaking.
The recovered energy can then be used to assist the engine in powering the car during the next acceleration phase. During breaking, the KERS-system is charged by engaging a PMDC motor (Permanent Magnet Direct Current) to one of the rear wheels with an electromagnetic clutch. This charges a number of super capacitors with electrical energy, while slowing the car down due to the inertia of the rotor inside the electric motor. When activated, the super capacitors discharge their electrical energy, turning the PMDC motor into a drive motor, capable of powering its own rear axle. Once the super capacitors have released their energy, the PMDC motor is disengaged, and remains inactive until the car needs to brake again. Through this process, almost half of the kinetic energy lost while braking, is recovered and used again. The gathered energy is used to propel the car at the beginning of each lap from a standstill. This has a favorable effect on the overall fuel efficiency of the car, since quite a lot of mechanical energy is lost in the engine and clutch when accelerating the car from a standstill.
DTU Dynamo 9.0 during final assembly, displaying new carbon fiber monocoque and new engine placement. (Photograph by Mads Anders Jensen)
This year, the car has been fitted with an all new carbon fiber monocoque. The new monocoque is a combination of a full carbon fiber chassis and the bottom half of the car’s outer shell. This eases the assembly of the car, and it saves weight, as the monocoque can be tailor-made for its purpose instead of having to be assembled from two separate pieces. The monocoque has been constructed with the purpose of facilitating engine mounting without any kind of support structure. On last year’s DTU eco car, the Dynamo 8.0, which achieved a fuel consumption equivalent to 611 km/l on one liter of ordinary petrol, the engine was supported by an aluminum frame. This year, the team has been able to use special adhesive and mounting brackets from the company Click Bond, which has made it possible to mount the engine directly onto the bottom of the carbon fiber monocoque. This again saves weight and has allowed the team to better place the engine within the engine bay.
The weight reduction following the new monocoque and crank shaft housing is around 30 kg, resulting in a total weight of just above 100 kg for Dynamo 9.0.
One step further
The goal for the team attending this year’s Eco-marathon is to improve on last year’s record in order to prove that DTU Roadrunners are at the very forefront of energy efficient mobility. Last years’ world record set by DTU Roadrunners was equivalent to an average fuel consumption of 611 km/l and the team expects to exceed last year’s record by approximately 10 %, which should result in a fuel consumption equivalent to around 700 km/l.
Dynamo 9.0 during its official presentation at DTU campus Lyngby (DK) on the 6th of May 2013. (Photograph by Mads Anders Jensen)
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 | By Great Energy Challenge | No Comments
Before competing at Shell Eco-marathon 2013 in Rotterdam, the Polyjoule team decided to go to the Educ Eco in Colomiers (France). Here is our story day by day. (See also: “Team Polyjoule 2013: New Car, New Category.”)
The whole team arrived at Colomiers in the south of France on May 8 for the Educ Eco Challenge. The goal of the team for this race is to drive our new urban concept car CityJoule for the first time, and to be sure that everything in the car is ok. We firstly decided to prepare the paddocks and the car to have a free trial on the track on Thursday. We had to prepare technically the last details of the vehicle, the electronic cards, and the fuel cells to be certain we were ready for the next day. This trial will be the first race for CityJoule, and we are really excited to know if everything is well.
The end of the day came later: a small number of details took a large amount of time for the technical staff.
We woke up at the same time as the sun, everybody keen to be able to see the technical tests of CityJoule in the morning before the afternoon race. And it was official: the car was ready to race!!!
The first tests on the track were really emotional. It was amazing to see some teammates having tears in their eyes, everybody was so happy to see the vehicle driving along the track.
Each of us had in mind the people who worked on the project before us: This the first final test of the CityJoule project. The others will be the challenges’ results as we gauged whether we could meet our predictions regarding the energy consumption. Even if we had a little problem which pushed us to stop the test, we were really proud of all the work and all the team.
The rest of the day was dedicated to preparing the vehicle as best we could to be ready to race on Friday morning.
On Friday, the first day of CityJoule’s official debut, we did six laps before having a technical problem with a wheel. But it was nothing serious enough to prevent our afternoon race. We were really proud to know for certain that CityJoule was able to race and to have the energy consumption we wanted. Jéromine, the driver, says also that the vehicle’s behavior is really good and that it is a real pleasure to drive it.
The second official try will be on this afternoon.
On our second trial in the afternoon, we encountered a second problem, but this time it was a problem of strategy: a mistake during the first lap forced us to stop the race. We immediately decided to attempt another trial during the short time we had left.
All the team was under pressure, we knew that it was one of the last attempts we had at Educ Eco Challenge, and we wanted to perform well before leaving the next day. The laps felt like they lasted hours and hours, and everybody wanted to know if we would be able to finish without a problem. The whole team was shouting every time the vehicle went ahead. The final lap, the last straight line, the finish line: Yeah, we did it !
The results came 20 minutes later: 156 km/kWh, or 1,402 km, with the energetic equivalent of a gasoline liter (3,298 mpg). Put simply, a world record!!!!
It was amazing to see the whole team really happy, shouting and running everywhere !
Having already performed well, we just wanted to be ready for the next day and the last race of the week at Educ Eco Challenge.
We decided to drive the vehicle with our second driver, the one who will drive at Rotterdam. The car is ready to perform, we know it; we just want the driver to practice, and we want to learn more about the car’s behavior when the weight of the driver is higher.
We were really pressure-free, as we had a world record under our belt. After five laps, the strategy team decided to attempt to beat the last day’s record. We adapted the race strategy to try a new performance. After 13 laps, everybody wanted to know about the number—the result. The answer: We beat the record by 28 km, reaching 1,430 km with the energetic equivalent of one gasoline liter (3,364 mpg), the new world record in two days.
Having reached the end of the Challenge, it was really interesting for everyone to know more about the car, the other teams, and the competition. We just want to thank the Educ Eco organization. It was really good to come to Colomiers to drive our new vehicle.
Every teammate now needs to have a rest for Eco-marathon in Rotterdam.
Sofia Perez is with the Rainforest Alliance, an EarthShare member organization. Here she discusses the importance of forests to biodiversity, and talks about programs her organization has in place to help halt destruction and transform land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. The International Day for Biological Diversity is May 22, 2013.
“biodiversity” is technically a noun, but at the Rainforest Alliance we think
of it as a verb. More than just a laundry list of flora and fauna,
biodiversity encapsulates the way living organisms co-exist in a shared space
and thrive on their interdependence.
Although the word is often used interchangeably with “wildlife,” the true
definition of biodiversity is much broader. It’s the variety and abundance of plants
and animals in a particular ecosystem, the genetic richness they contain and
the diversity of the world’s habitats as a whole. To witness a living,
breathing laboratory of biodiversity, look no further than the nearest forest.
consummate multi-taskers. Not only do they
remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, prevent
soil erosion and protect water supplies, they harbor 80 percent of
Earth’s terrestrial species. They also play a
sheltering role in the day-to-day lives of people and wildlife, providing
habitat, shade, food, medicine, fuel and other resources.
are crucial to so many, they are under extraordinary pressure. Global
consumption of natural resources increased by more than 40 percent between 1992
and 2005, according to the U.N. Environment Programme. Today, 60 million
indigenous people depend on forests for their subsistence, and a total of 1.6
billion people rely on forest resources for their income and survival.
Communities that harvest timber and forest goods are no longer doing so solely to
meet their own needs but also to supply a global market in forest products that
has grown to $327 billion.
has led to the destruction of more than 35 million acres of forest annually through overharvesting,
the conversion of forests to farms, burning and illegal logging. Because
interdependence is a defining characteristic of biodiversity, environmental
destruction has catastrophic effects on wildlife.
deprives jaguars, migratory birds and other animals of their habitats and migration
routes and isolates their breeding populations; causes orangutans and scarlet
macaws to lose their forage; and increases topsoil run-off, which flows into
rivers, killing aquatic life hundreds of miles downstream and eventually
silting precious coral reef habitat.
not immune either. Forest loss creates a vicious cycle that intensifies
economic desperation, which can drive people to deplete their forest resources
further just to survive.
Photo: Rainforest Alliance
destruction is at the heart of the Rainforest Alliance’s mission: to conserve
biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use
practices, business practices and consumer behavior. To address a problem this
complex requires solutions that are as multifaceted as the environments,
wildlife and communities that we all wish to protect.
terms, this means that we collaborate with community members, business leaders,
nonprofit advocates, scientists, technical experts and government officials to help
the agriculture, forestry and tourism industries manage their natural resources
sustainably. And to ensure that our efforts have staying power, we educate
consumers, teachers and students about the impacts of their everyday choices
and the simple steps that they can take as individuals to support positive
changes on a global scale.
conjunction with our international network of partners, we evaluate companies
and community enterprises against rigorous environmental, social and economic
guidelines. Beyond setting aside forestland for protection, our standards
ensure that sustainably managed farms, forests and tourism businesses help to link
and buffer isolated forest fragments. The result is a healthy forest that conserves
biodiversity by creating corridors for wildlife migration, protecting habitat, preventing
erosion and reducing the risk of fires, poaching and other destructive
businesses that meet these strict standards may use the Rainforest Alliance
Certified™ or Rainforest Alliance Verified™ trustmarks to market their
products. These seals give consumers a way to support and reward sustainability
through their purchases and the confidence that the products and/or services
they are buying were produced responsibly.
Rainforest Alliance was founded over 25 years ago, we envisioned a world where people
could earn a living while restoring degraded land and protecting threatened wildlife
and ecosystems. Human beings are an integral part of the planet’s great web of
biodiversity, and it is our responsibility to conserve the Earth’s magnificent
range of flora and fauna. In the long run, a web is only as strong as its
Monday, May 13, 2013 | By Great Energy Challenge | 1 Comment
Sometimes it is not easy to be the first. Our team at Kharkiv National Automobile and Highway University is the first one from Ukraine to build a fuel-efficient car and take it to Shell Eco-marathon. It’s very important for us, citizens of a young state, to convey information about our country, our history, our culture, and our customs to Europeans.
Unfortunately, Ukrainian society has not accepted the idea of caring about the environment and having a careful attitude about the production and consumption of energy yet. That is why we encounter a lot of misunderstanding from other people. We try to make our work as open as possible, we created a team blog, participate in different exhibitions and PR activities, and conduct study tours to the team’s lab. Usually we have more than 100 media items about our team during the year. This attention from the public and media helps us to spread the principles of Eco-marathon in Ukraine, and helps to find new financial partners for our team.
Our team’s motto is: When you have a wish, you have thousand possibilities; when you do not have a wish, you have a thousand excuses.
Ours is purely a student project, in which the team of young designers created the project of a special gasoline prototype, found sponsors for the creation of the car, made a strategy for participation in the competition and found companies that provided financial support for participation in 2010, 2011 and 2013. The main distinguishing characteristic of our project from other engineering student projects in the post-Soviet countries is that we make it without financial participation from our team members.
For each of us, participating in this race is great experience on a real technical project in which everyone can realize his or her potential. We are enthusiastic about the future, and we believe that soon, teams from other universities in Ukraine will join us for Eco-marathon.
Most of us know how critical coral
reefs are to maintaining the health of our oceans and marine life. But did you
know that humans depend on them, too – and that by the year 2030, 90% of coral
reefs around the world will be threatened if action isn’t taken to protect them?
One of the most well-known coral reef relationships is the
one between the clownfish and the sea anemone (pictured above). Clownfish
defend the anemone from predators while the anemone provides the clownfish with
a safe home. At one time, anemones were thought to be plants, but in 1753,
scientists realized they were animals, just like the clownfish.
Sea anemones are members of the phylum Cnidaria (nahy-dair-ee-uh).
Along with algae, Cnidaria (or polyps) are the building blocks of coral reefs
worldwide, what Céline Cousteau has called
the “cradle of life in the ocean”. Coral reefs support thousands of varieties
of plants and animals, anchoring hotspots of diversity similar to those provided
by tropical rainforests.
Humans need coral reefs too.
Corals support the fish eaten by over a billion people worldwide. In developing
countries, a quarter of the fish caught comes from coral reefs. These
shallow-water ecosystems also provide tourism dollars, protection from coastal
erosion, and medical treatments for human diseases like cancer and HIV.
But human activity is putting coral reefs at great risk
through pollution, damaging fishing practices, and climate change. Over 85% of Southeast
Asia’s Coral Triangle is directly threatened by human activity and the rest of
the world’s reefs are headed in the same direction:
EarthShare organizations are working hard to ensure that we
don’t lose these treasures of the ocean. In the Gulf of California, the Natural
Resources Defense Council is working with partners and citizen groups to keep
tourism development out of one of the richest marine systems on the planet in Cabo
Pulmo National Park.
The World Resources Institute (WRI) is helping
communities manage their coral reefs in a more sustainable way through
resources like Reefs at Risk Revisited in
the Coral Triangle. The report was recently translated to Indonesian so
that local leaders can implement the prescriptions.
WRI’s report reveals that some reefs are faring better than
others. Scientists at the Wildlife
Conservation Society and Defenders of Wildlife are pinpointing these
differences through “stress
tests” and other research. These tests will help conservationists
prioritize the regions and species that need the most protecting and those that
are likely to be resilient in the face of climate change. Since the ocean is
undergoing a much faster rate of warming from climate change than the
atmosphere, answering these questions is vital to saving coral reefs.