Hello all! Now that the holidays are well over and we’ve been working for more than a month, I have more than enough to write about again! First things first, the new team is formed. With more members and full timers than ever (as far as I can remember at least), it seems to become a very fruitful year! My own personal achievement this year thus far, is that I have been promoted to Chief Strategy (woohoo :)), head of the Strategy Department. Our department sets out to make sure that the car that is built by the other departments is used as optimally as possible by deciding the driving strategy, thus where and how to drive. To do this, my colleagues and I have made a model of the car and the track last year, which simulates the performance of the car using different strategies. This model can also be used to some extent to compare the performance of different designs, so that it can be implemented in the design phase.
As the Chief, I’ve set up this year’s goals of the department, and presented them to the old and
current team members for any further commentary. The main goal, which I will be dedicating most
of my time, is to make the model of last year as compliant with the reality as possible. It is obvious
that this should always be the number one priority, but the truth is that there is a chronical lack of
data to really verify the model. In order to solve this problem a testing day has been set-up at the
end of September, with the data of which a lot of light can be shed on the model. Due to a lot of
external factor, e.g. uneven surfaces with bumps and hills, it is very tough to get a complete analysis
of the pure data that is relevant for our purposes. Using several methods, I have been working to
filter out the useful information from the data and will proceed to do this in the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile the next testing day is being planned, and if the racing conditions are different during
that test, it should provide all the needed information to give a conclusive view on the current
model. Then this can be updated, so that it performs on point and can be used during the race for
the, hopefully real-time, strategy and before the race, while designing the car.
In these final weeks, I’ve mainly have been busy with the never-ending search for new team-members. I’ve been flyering quite a bit and have attended a nice sponsor event in The Hague, something I very much enjoyed doing! However, the engineer in me can’t stop thinking about the next technical challenge we’ll be facing, namely the various tests that will be conducted with the new team and the Ecorunner VII in the beginning of next year.
The plan is to perform a variety of tests, and using the data extracted from several sensors (RPM, Force, Ampère) I can finally really test the accuracy of the simulations I made this year. For me, these tests are invaluable, since only when they have been conducted it is possible to know whether I can proceed to implement more features into the simulation (better GUI, real-live calculations) or whether there still are physical factors I failed to consider and I need to change the heart of the current simulation itself. The results really outline what I’ll be working on the first part of the year.
I’m thus looking forward to conducting these tests and working together with the new team on improving and completing everything that the team of this year has achieved so far. For now, I’m going back to Russia to enjoy holidays with my family over there, in order to come back just in time for the first team meeting next year!
While the event came closer, me and my fellow first-year student, Otmar, were appointed to welcome our guests at their arrival. After all the various visitors, from parents and roommates to reporters and sponsors, had arrived, it was time to initiate the event. After our team-manager Paul held a speech, in which he showed the awesome video of the new EcoRunner design, the Mayor of our University town took the stage, Mrs Van Bijsterveldt. She gave an inspiring talk about the aim towards progression and innovation in the field of sustainability, and the leading roll the TU Delft plays, with at its core the different DreamTeams.
That was the perfect moment to take the next small step in favour of this innovation, in front of the world: The reveal of the EcoRunner VII. Together with the Mayor, Paul pulls the silken cloak of the vehicle which was standing near the end of the stage for the longest time, waiting for all eyes to see it. There it is, take a moment to look at the picture which is included to this blog. If you’re interested in my opinion, I like it, didn’t expect the colours to match so well and portray the spirit of the team as much as they do.
All the visuals aside however, I’m an engineer at heart, what I was waiting for was to see it drive. And I was not the only one, as one entity, everyone in the hall stood up and followed the EcoRunner, which was already being carried outside by the Chief Engineer, Uggi, and Chief Powertrain and Electronics, Tom. Our driver and Technical Manager, who was visibly extremely excited, jumped into the car and took it out for a run. Just as I expected, it performed marvellously… the things one can achieve by working together towards a common goal are amazing. I think it is safe to say that everyone present felt amazing because of this feat.
While thinking back to that day, I take the time to celebrate the achievement for a couple of seconds, but also must remain sober and realise that the real accomplishment is yet to come. At this moment in time, all our eyes are focussed at the Eco-marathon, and rightfully so.
Next to that Otmar and I have been taking a new look at the different inputs and outputs that we need to keep track of during the race. Now we have an even better overview of all components and we also set up an emergency plan for when something goes wrong, for example if we lose connection between the EcoRunner and the ‘ground station’. To tip that of we’ve all looked at how we want the outputs to be presented to our driver, so that she can take in as much vital information as possible, without getting distracted or having to think too much about it.
Well, I’ll finish with the same prospect as last time: Completing the final ideal strategy for the race. Hopefully we will manage to do that this time around, if not, then I should really stop watching as much YouTube.
In the next updates I will publish some preliminary results regarding the performances of Fuel Cell system, confident to satisfy the expectation, thanks to our hard working.
Now then, in January we finally began working on the driving-style itself. That is, when to give gas and when to let go. Having a raceline as basis, we constructed a program that, given a certain driving-style, simulates the energy-use during a lap around the track. This is done by keeping track of the forces working on the car and with them calculating its position and velocity. This also includes the force produced by the motor, which we can use to calculate the energy consumption rate, using the figures provided by the company manufacturing the motor. To get a better picture on the matter however, we are going to have to wait on our own tests surrounding the motor. These can be used to perfect the simulation, and thus provide a more accurate result.
That was it for the simulation, now the driving-style strategy itself. Like with the raceline, we shall use a genetic algorithm to find the best strategy. We shall start with different strategies, which we will rank using the simulation from earlier. Using the same process described in my last blog (with some adjustments discussed at the beginning of this one) we will hope to find the best strategy.
As for later, our plans are clear: Although this strategy and raceline which I discussed give a precise picture, it is mainly for ideal conditions, when no other cars are on the track. We however want to give the best possible strategy real-time, during the race. That means that we have to make quicker programs that can give a good result while including more variables. This will certainly be a challenge, but we have some nice ideas and I hope to get you guys up to date to them real soon!
You can imagine that in order to make a well-grounded decision for the strategy one should have an clear and accurate picture of all the factors influencing the car during the race. Therefore I started this month of by extensively searching for all those factors. It can clearly be seen that most of them unfortunately can´t be well-evaluated beforehand, wind being an example of one such influence. The idea was thus, to have multiple sensors build into the car in order to calculate those factors real-time, during the race. More on those sensors however in a later blog, as they are to be placed and implemented later.
For now I shifted my focus on everything that can somewhat be determined at this stage, more specifically the tire drag. Digging deeper into the subject, I discovered that the energy loss during a turn is of absurdly high in comparison to other sources of energy loss. I thus set forth to determine how to make those losses as low as possible. It turns that the raceline with the minimum curvature leads to a minimum cornering drag and therefore also to optimal efficiency during the race. It however is difficult to find this raceline using pure mathematics-based algorithms and I decided on a different (and in my opinion infinitely more awesome).
Currently I am developing a program that on the basis of evolution finds the best raceline. It literally creates hundreds of different possible racelines, which at first are terrible, but using natural selection and random mutation become better and better. When enough computing time is put towards it, this process will find the best raceline. However time-consuming, it should give the best result (and did I mention that it is awesome). When that is done, further steps can be taken towards finding the ultimate driving strategy. I am looking forward to keeping you updated on the progress.
For these reasons, in the first two months, I worked close with rest of the Powertrain department to perform practical in-house tests and measurements on the FC stack (provided by ZBT) used in Ecorunner V and VI. This allowed us to understand better how different parameter setups affect performances, and thus efficiency.
At the same time, efforts have been made in the evaluation of the new powertrain configuration for the Ecorunner VII. The selection procedure passes through the analysis of different powertrain topologies, estimation of power consumption, drive strategies and cost analysis. We are now in the conclusive part of the selection.
In the next months, after the decision, I will focus on the optimization of FC system itself and it synergy with the rest of the powertrain (motor, electronics and boostcaps).
Time for another post again! Since my last update I have been working on the brakes quite intensively. Last year, they discovered during the race that the driver of the Ecorunner had to use a lot of force to use the brake. This was something we wanted to improve this year. I made a new design for the brake: now the brake handle is longer, so you have to use less force to brake.
In order to make this new design I worked a lot together with our chief suspension Jochem. The design of the brakes had to be integrated with the design of the suspension in order to let everything fit into the Ecorunner.
Also, I looked into the design of the connection between the suspension and the brakes. Since the design of the suspension changed somewhat compared to last year, the design of the brakes had to be adapted to this. In the picture I included you can see the model I made for this connection in CATIA.
Lastly, I did a course for lathing and milling. All our team members need to attend such courses in order to be able to help during the production phase of the Ecorunner. Our production phase is officially starting next week and I will be helping with this as well.
In upcoming posts, I will probably tell you more about this!
My name is Audun and I am a student electric engineering. I studied in Trondheim, Norway and now I study for one year at the electrical engineering faculty of the TU Delft. Besides my courses, I am also a member of the Eco-Runner Team Delft. This team tries to build a highly fuel-efficient car which is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell in combination with an electrical motor. Via this blog, I will try to keep you posted on the things I do within the team this year.
I am responsible for the motor. My job is to find a new and better motor for the new Ecorunner. In order to do so, I am trying to implement the motor with the rest of the drivetrain, including the DC-DC converter and the capacitors. In this implementation, I am constantly testing and verifying that the motor indeed works optimally. Also, I am working on simulations and on an optimization model for the driving strategy during the race in London.
The different courses that I followed during my study, in Trondheim as well as in Delft, provide me with the tools necessary for this job. In Trondheim, I followed a course on electric machines which helped me to understand how electric motors work. Also, I followed a course on operations research. This course was very much about optimization, and it is very useful right now to make an optimization model for the motor of the Eco Runner. In Delft I followed a course on electronic power conversion, which is really useful to understand how the DC-DC converter works and teaches about related design trade-offs and reasons for losses in the system.
In the coming posts on this blog I will tell you more about my daily work at the Ecorunner and keep you updated on the progress that we make!
My name is Jesse Mulderij and I am a student applied mathematics and physics at the TU Delft. Besides my studies, I am also part of the Eco-Runner Team for this year, a dreamteam connected to the TU Delft. We are building a highly fuel-efficient car which is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. With this car, we are going to participate in the Shell Eco-marathon in June of 2016. Via this blog I will keep you posted on the things I do within the Eco-Runner Team this year.
My job within the team is to design and improve the wheels and brakes of the car. This task is very much about optimizing the design. For this, my mathematical background is very useful, since I also followed several optimization courses at the mathematics faculty. Also, my study mathematics allows me to have an analytical framework from which I can approach the design problems that I encounter in a structural way, even though I have never designed a car before. Furthermore, I advise and help people with other tasks in the team.
The last few months, I have been working together with Jochem, another team member of the Eco-Runner Team who is also responsible for the wheels and brakes, to improve and optimize the brakes system of the Ecorunner of last year. Also, we have been looking at the wheel system and we have developed a new measuring system to measure the alignment of the wheels. Via this measuring system, we want to determine what the optimal alignment of the wheels is, in terms of minimum resistance.
In the coming posts, I will keep you updated on the progress we are making with the wheels and brakes of the new Ecorunner!
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