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June 2015 Drive from Galway to Dublin for just 13 cent
NUI Galway students’ car excels in international energy-efficiency competition
A team of NUI Galway engineering students have achieved the equivalent of 8,000 miles per gallon in the Galway energy-efficient car (the Geec), which they designed and built. The team returned last week from Rotterdam, where they raced the car in the European round of Shell Eco-marathon, a global competition to find the world’s most fuel-efficient and energy-efficient cars. Team NUI Galway was the first Irish entry ever to participate in the event.
At Shell Eco-marathon Europe, a future generation of engineers and scientists aged 16-25 from 26 countries in Europe and beyond competed against each other. With Rotterdam as the host city, Shell brought the competition closer to the public with a fit-for-purpose street circuit.
The Geec, a three-wheeled battery-electric car, completed four 16km competition runs of 10 laps each on the urban track. The winners were the teams that could drive the furthest on the equivalent of 1 litre of fuel or (in the Geec’s class) 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity.
The Galway energy-efficient car’s final energy consumption score was equivalent to almost 8,000 miles per gallon – over 100 times more efficient than most cars on the road.
“We aimed to break the barrier of €1 for a Galway-Dublin drive, but the finished Geec would use just 13 cent,” said Dr Rory Monaghan, NUI Galway, one of the team’s mentors. “We have learned an awful lot about how to design, build and drive an ultra-efficient vehicle. This is just the beginning.”
The car has been in development for two years, and the final success wasn’t without incident. “Early on in Rotterdam, the car’s power electronics failed during testing,” said Geec team member, student Barry Flannery, from Oranmore, Co. Galway. “It was scary, but we managed to work through the problems step by step and achieve an incredible score.”
After three runs the Geec’s best score had risen to 202 kilometres per kilowatt-hour. The NUI Galway team decided to go all-out on their final run, made overnight modifications to the drivetrain, and planned a new driving strategy. The risky approach paid off – the Geec’s score jumped to 287 on the final day of competition, to finish 23rd out of 51 in its class.
“Using the brake negatively affects the efficiency of the car,” explained student Maryrose McLoone, from Glenties, Co. Donegal, who drove the Geec on the final run, “so it was important I was able to manoeuvre between other cars while also driving efficiently and safely. I had to stay aware of my lap time, my motor speed and other cars around me.”
Professor Gerry Lyons, Dean of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, was hugely proud of his students: “To finish on the top half of the leader board is a truly great achievement by NUI Galway students in this our first outing in this event. I’m delighted for all who have been directly involved in this tremendous project.”
Shell Ireland’s Managing Director, Ronan Deasy, said the Geec team had made a big impression with the organisers and other competitors at the Rotterdam event. “Their energy, enthusiasm and professional approach, meant that Ireland’s first entry in the Eco-marathon was really noticed and positively commented upon. The Geec team’s result was fantastic and sets them up well for next year’s competition in London,” he said.
The Geec team was generously supported by Shell E&P Ireland, Wood Group Kenny, Belcross Enterprises, Central Bearing Supplies, Smurfit Kappa, Sinbad Marine, Maxon Motor, QuickTec Computers, and Enform Plastics.
For more information on NUI Galway’s eco-car, please visit the team website, www.theGeec.ie, find theGeec.ie on facebook, or follow @theGeec on twitter.