UVM AERO hybrid - Appreciation event and 2009 international competition
Release Date: 05-12-2009
The 2009 UVM Alternative Energy Racing Organization (AERO) hybrid vehicle will be on display for a sponsor appreciation event on Friday, May 15 at 5:30 pm at Hazelett Strip Casting in Colchester, Vermont. The AERO hybrid car competed in the 2009 Formula Hybrid SAE Competition held May 4-6, 2009 in Loudon, New Hampshire.
UVM AERO students from the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS) raced with approximately 30 teams from as far away as India and Russia. The UVM AERO was the second-fastest car in Loudon, but due to several unexpected technical issues, the UVM team did not take any awards. They are encouraged nonetheless by the car's performance.
"It was an exciting event, particularly exciting to see the UVM AERO car up and running, often as fast as some of the best cars," says Paul Hines, professor and advisor for AERO. "While we did not bring home a stack of awards this year, the team has a lot to be proud of. Our students have matured enormously, which is our goal as educators. The UVM AERO was faster than the Texas A&M car, and we placed above the Dartmouth car in a variety of events."
Chris Farmer, AERO team leader, reported on the AERO team adventure:
The autocross had many tight short corners to test handling. The car took 8th out of 21 competing cars. We would have placed considerably better if we had more driver seat time and more performance-tuned suspension and steering, but still not a bad result.
The last day of the competition involved the endurance event which has the highest point value (400 out of ~675). The race was 16 miles in two heats of 8 miles with a driver change in between heats. Teams were given 1 contiguous hour to complete the 16 miles, with extra time being allotted for tuning the car. Our first heat was impressive, the car had extremely fast acceleration and the fine tuning had fixed the handling issues. Our lap times approached that of the fastest recorded cars on the track but again lack of driver seat time was an issue.
The end of the first heat was received by the pit only to find that the engine was overheating badly. All the water had boiled out of the radiator and the engine was so hot it was starting to seize. The overheating was caused by the modifications made to the exhaust in order to pass the noise test. The restrictor plate that was added to the exhaust in order to reduce noise also prevents the engine from being able to vent as much heat as it would without the restrictor. On the electrical side, the regenerative braking was working beautifully and there was still a considerable charge in the battery even after 25 minutes of hard driving.
On the second heat, the engine had major overheating issues that resulted in irreparable damage to the cylinder and piston. The engine problems forced the driver to run the car in electric-only mode. This turned a lot of heads. Try to imagine watching the same car passing around a track producing a rather loud noise and suddenly there is no noise, yet the car continues to accelerate through the course at nearly the same speed. It was a proud moment and veritable proof of the quality of our hybrid architecture design that it can suffer such a catastrophic failure and still continue with only slightly limited performance.
Even though our car did not win the competition this year, the performance that we saw from the car makes me stone confident that UVM AERO is a winner in hybrid architecture and the GEN 2 car will only increase our potential for victory.
Advised by Professors Jeff Frolik and Paul Hines, the UVM students who worked on AERO include: Brian Leach, a junior in mechanical engineering, AERO president and leader for mechanics on the car; Charley Robinson, a graduate student in computer science and the lead in control systems work; and Christopher Farmer, a graduate student in electrical engineering and the lead in battery system development.
The 2009 AERO hybrid vehicle will be on display for a sponsor appreciation event on Friday, May 15 at 5:30 pm at Hazelett Strip Casting in Colchester, Vermont.