Testing at a small airport next to our University in Munich
Read Caption
Photograph by Lorenz Böck
Testing at a small airport next to our University in Munich

TUfast Eco: With Innovation to Victory

It was just two years ago when a couple of young highly motivated students at the Technical University of Munich in Germany decided to found the TUfast Eco team and build a car for Shell Eco-marathon Europe.

Building race cars for the Formula Student has already become a tradition at our university, but designing a new prototype for an eco-challenge from scratch with completely different requirements was another situation altogether.  It was exactly this challenge that made it so interesting for us, because the TUfast Eco project presented us with the perfect opportunity to apply our knowledge from lectures immediately. A lot of research and hard work went into our first prototype before we were able to participate in the 2011 Eco-Marathon Europe at the Lausitzring in Germany for the first time.  Our initial participation was an enjoyable eye-opening experience.

On the basis of structured failure analysis and the use of creative problem-solving techniques, new ideas along with various improvements were put into our 2012 prototype.  In comparison to the previous year, a completely new rear axis was constructed, along with the creation of a smart phone as a gauge for the driver. This enabled us to monitor and analyze the car comfortably from the pit and at the same time provide the driver with useful information.

The move from the fuel cell class to the “battery only” category was another relevant change for us. In the course of this, we followed the common trend of electrification with batteries, concluding that fuel cell technology is very complex to handle and simply too heavy.

Here, the prototype weight was dramatically reduced by using lithium-ion batteries.   Our goal is now to participate successfully in 2012 Shell* Eco-marathon Europe, taking place in the beautiful Dutch city of Rotterdam from the 17th to the 19th May.

Preparing for Eco-marathon Europe is not our only endeavor. In October we are participating in the Eco-Challenge – SolarRaceMurcia in Spain.  Our goal here is to implement and test our initial improvements and next evolutions of vehicle parts under competitive conditions while implementing the data collected during Eco-marathon.

Work is already being done on our new chassis concept making CFD (Computer Fluid Dynamics) simulations to improve the aerodynamics of the vehicle.

Moreover, optimization algorithms for stiffness calculation to max out the lightweight potential are being developed. FEM (Finite Element Method) simulations are absolutely mandatory in bridging the gap between building an extremely light car while at the same time providing a safe and stiff chassis.

Only four weeks remain until the final showdown, when more than 200 teams from all over the world are competing for the Most Efficient Car title. Right now, we are entering the final phase of preparation performing final tests and ironing out any potential problems.  Optimal performance is our goal as we eagerly await a great event in Rotterdam.

More information about the team and the vehicle can be found on our homepage.

The Great Energy Challenge