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Motorsport MSc Students Go Radical With Hydrogen

25 Mar 2014

Motorsport Masters students at Cranfield University are designing a hydrogen-powered sports racing car for the future.

Four teams of students formed from the MSc Advanced Motorsport Engineering programme are undertaking the work for the group design project element of their course, supported by Radical Sportscars, Aerocom Metals and several other organisations. The project has been designed in anticipation of the hydrogen economy and in relation to the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) Technology Road Map.

The students have been tasked with designing a 2-seat, low-cost hydrogen-powered sports-racing prototype. They are focussing on the brand new Radical RXC as an example of best current practice and proposing investigating chassis and powertrain options for a future world where Hydrogen may be the fuel of choice.

The project requires close integration between powertrain modelling and new chassis design – linking real data from Radical and Ford Ecoboost engines with new materials and structural optimisation. Students are designing and undertaking their own physical tests of materials and current car components to validate their simulations. On top of this the solutions must be relevant to a low cost, safety conscious series and perform well – the ultimate contest is a virtual race between four teams to be held at the end of the project.

The students will have access to the Radical RXC during the three month project and will be using key facilities such as the University’s FIA accredited Cranfield Impact Centre. Engine simulations will be undertaken using AVL Boost and FEA work will be undertaken using a variety of packages. The four prototypes will run simulated laps of Silverstone National Circuit and the Cadwell Park full circuit with support from Cranfield Motorsport Simulation. Throughout the group design project phase the Cranfield students will have access to a number of motorsport practitioners who will run sessions for the students.

Phil Abbott, Managing Director of Radical Sportscars, said: “We are very pleased to be able to support a project such as this, both to progress the development of future engineers and to investigate new forms of technology, particularly in the field that addresses environmental concerns. We will be watching their progress with interest.”

Jack Chilvers, a current student on the course, said: “The conversion of Radical’s RXC sports car to hydrogen fuel provides an incredibly interesting and challenging task. The nature of the RXCs bodywork, which provides the best aerodynamic performance, makes the inclusion of on-board hydrogen stores less than straightforward. Over the coming weeks, I have no doubt that out-of-the-box thinking will have to be employed to provide a successful solution to this project!”

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