Electric cars are slowly gaining traction in the marketplace but there’s a common misconception that electric vehicles are slow and can’t compete with combustion-based engines for speed.
The Embry-Riddle Prescott campus’ Eagle Works: Advanced Vehicle Laboratory student team believes that perception needs an adjustment. They are developing an electric car that will break – no, shatter – the existing E-1 class electric land speed record of 204 mph. By combining aerodynamics with new, cutting-edge green energy technology, the Electric Land Speed Record Car will achieve speeds upwards of 250 mph. This ultralight 1,100-pound high-tech vehicle is projected to run on the Bonneville Salt Flats in early 2018.
“Electric vehicles can definitely compete with other forms of powered vehicles,” said Jenna Humble, team lead and senior in Aerospace Engineering. “It actually has more torque than combustion, so there is potential for higher efficiencies. It’s the greatest feeling to be pushing the envelope in electrical cars. Plus, everyone on the team has a passion for speed, so it’s the perfect project for us.”
Just as important as speed is the fact that electricity is renewable; unlike fossil fuels, it is more efficient and has less impact on the environment. Green technology may be advancing, but it still needs further innovation and endurance testing. The team plans to innovate en route to the record by intentionally selecting sub-systems that use the newest technology whereby the vehicle serves as the proving platform and the financial purchase stimulates the industry.
The team is also developing new technology along the way. An effective cooling system does not exist for an E-1 class electric vehicle traveling faster than 204 mph on multiple runs in quick succession, so the students have engineered a design that seems to be very promising. Just imagine, your future electric vehicle’s cooling system could be based on an ERAU student innovation.
Only a few select universities offer undergraduate curriculum in energy engineering or propulsion and Embry-Riddle Prescott is on that list. With the Electric Land Speed Record Car project, students have the opportunity to apply their knowledge, solve problems, and innovate on a level that goes far beyond the classroom. In a few short years, these students will be the professionals steering the green transportation industry.