As is customary every year, Formula Electric Belgium organised it's partner event, where we want to show our gratitude towards them for their support of the last year. The place to be for this event was again the atrium of Group T. Especially for this occasion, we build a stage for our award winning vehicles, where the Umicore Pulse stood on the highest scaffold, side by side with the Umicore Luna and the Umicore Nova.
After a small welcome drink our guests were invited to the auditorium were we looked back to the passed and successful year. Besides that we already revealed some novelties for the upcoming car.
During the weekend of the 6th and 7th of October, Formula Electric Belgium was present at the Umicore site at Olen. During this open company weekend, we demonstrated the speed and agility of our cars together with our colleagues of eMotorsports Cologne, the Formula Student team of Cologne. Besides the demo rides of the Powered by Umicore student teams, the spectators could see the power of electric mobility from a real Formula E team, Mahindra Racing. This Formula E car is was driven by Sam Dejonghe, a Belgian test driver.
Luna at Fibre-Fixed
Lightweight, strong and stiff, these are the most important reasons to use composite materials in all sorts of applications. Besides these qualities, working with composites gives the designer a lot of freedom of form. This doesn't only lead to ingenious machinery but also to magnificent sculptures. 'Fibre-Fixed. Composites in Design' shows an extensive amount of design projects made out of composite materials. From the 26th of October 2018 until the 21st of April, you can admire our Umicore Luna together with numerous other projects in the Design Museum of Ghent. For more information about this exposition, click here.
For the second year in a row, the visitors of the Gentleman's Fair could take our brand new racing simulator for a spin. For this occasion we moved our simulator for three days to the biggest man cave of Flanders. The contestants of the Alpha Male Challenge raced a lap on the legendary circuit of Silverstone.
During the Science Day people could participate in all kinds of activities associated with science and technology throughout Flanders and Brussels. Off course Formula Electric Belgium could not be absent on a day like that. One could find us both in the university library of the KU Leuven as in campus De Nayer of the Thomas More university. People young and old queued to take our simulator for a drive, while others, maybe future engineers, looked at our cars full of admiration.
A word about partners
To make our car as performant as possible, we need a battery that is lightweight and can still carry enough energy to finish the race. Besides that the battery also needs to be able to withstand high voltages and currents. For years we can rely on the expertise and technology of PEC to test all the parameters of our battery. Thanks to years of collaboration, we have gathered an enormous amount of information about our battery cells. Like how fast the cell heat up during charging at high currents and how we can cool them down more efficiently. This data make it possible for us to select the right cell in the first place and to use the cell in an optimal way during the race secondly.
Save the date: Digital Roll Out Formula Electric Belgium is working hard on the last refinements of the design of our new car. That is why we ask you to leave a blank spot in your agenda on Thursday the 21st of February for our Digital Roll-out. On this occasion we will proudly reveal the full design and the name of our 2019 vehicle. Afterwards you can enjoy of some appetizers and drink with the other guests at our network reception. This all will take place at the KU Leuven campus of technology De Nayer at Sint-Katelijne-Waver and will start at 7.30 pm.
Formula Student Czech Republic 31th of July until 4th of August in Most
For the second time, we enhusiasticlly headed out for the autodrom of Most for our last Formula Student Competition of this season. We can proudly look back at this successful competition. Last years hard work was rewarded with a first place on the design event and a third place on the acceleration!
Before the Umicore Pulse was allowed to prove itself on the track, it had to withstand a comprehensive technical inspection, the scrutineering. The feedback we got in the Netherlands was processed very well, leading to the Umicore Pulse being the first electrical vehicle to pass this scrutineering.
On the second day of the competition the static events took place. In these tests the team shows its engineering skills, professionalism and entrepreneurship. The highlight of these events was earning the first place in the engineering design event.
Also in the dynamic events the Umicore Pulse showed its worth by setting the third best time in the acceleration event! We also barely missed the podium on the skid pad event on which we ended up in fourth place.
When I decided to join the Formula Electric Belgium team, I didn't have any clue of the impact it would make on my life. In a team project like this, you'll learn a massive amount. You learn how to work on your own, you learn how to be responsible, you learn how to develop sustainable technologies. This last aspect isn't something that is self-evident in the standard education to become an industrial engineer. When you design a part for Formula Electric Belgium not only the quality of the part is of great importance. You constantly need to keep things in mind like production cost or the lifespan. Is the part easy to adapt or replace? All these experiences with hands on engineering isn't something you can learn in an academic enviroment.
Besides all these technical and soft-skills, the team project gives you opportunities that you otherwise would never get. You get to know the most interesting people, not only your fellow teammembers but also partners. You build such an interesting network. You work together with them, you negotiate with them... this is what makes this project so beautiful. It is an amazing feeling to know that we, students, are backed up by the industry. We spend an enormous amount of time on this project and when you get recognition from all those people, it makes all of us so proud. Setting those amazing performances on the Formula student competitions was the best reward we could possibly get. It means so much to us that all of our partners and stakeholders acknowledge our hard work of the past year. For this I want to show my gratitude to all of them.
Willem T'Hooft [2018: Head of marketing - 2019: Team captain]
The new team
After a thrilling summer during the competitions, it is time for the new team to prove themselves. This new team will exist of 21 core teammembers who will be assisted by 9 thesis students. This year Willem T'Hooft will be in charge as new team captain. To ensure the smooth co-operation within the team he will be accompanied byBrent Ooms (Chief Engineer), William Wauters (Head of Chassis), Victor Nuttens (Head of Powertrain), Yentl Frickx (Head of Electronics), Jordi Van de Velde (Head of R&D), Joppe Weustenraad (Head of Marketing), Hendrik Vandeput (Head of Operations) and Michiel Van den Brandt (Head of Support).
Goals for 2019
A new team means a new car with new challenges and new innovative ideas! As always, we will try to build a car that is as performant as possible. The goal is ever achieving faster laptimes by lowering the weigth as wel as improving the driving feel.
After our victory at the design event at FS Czech, we knew for sure that we had a good foundation for the upcoming car. After the competitions, we started with analysing the different new concepts and looked at the points in the car where there was room for improvement.
For the production of the monocoque, unidirectional carbon fiber will be used. In this
way the weight of the monocoque will be reduced by some kilograms. Besides this, we
will also optimize the production of the monocoque.
The suspension of the car will keep the concept of decoupled roll- and pitch motions. But this year we will achieve this by only using two dampers in stead of three. The design will however improve on adaptability. So during testing, the setup of the car will be able to happen faster. Next to this, we will also focus on vehicle dynamics. Based on a computer model we can see which parameters influence the vehicle behaviour. The goal is to have a better selecting criteria for springs and dampers and a more specific testing of the car.
This year we will also build further on the concept of a semi-active suspension. The goal here is to optimize the prototype so it can be implemented in future cars.
For the optimal performance during dynamic events it is necessary that the driver has a
comfortable seating position. This means that the focus of ergonomics will be on the
adaptability of the pedals, seat and handles of the steering wheel. In this way it is possible to adapt the car to all our drivers. The steering wheel will also be made out of carbon fiber.
The aerodynamics this year will mainly focus on improving the production of the package. The goal is to reduce the weight and improve the stiffness to guarantee the aerodynamic effect while driving. The design of the sidepods will change to improve the air flow towards the cooling of the car. Besides this, a diffuser will be developed. This to improve the downforce of the car without introducing an extra drag force.
The powertrain departement wants to focus on reliability this year. Everyday people design things more on the edge, with an ever decreasing safety factor. Combining such a critical design while maintaining a high reliability is a challenging task and asks a lot of effort to make and insight in correct simulations.
Concerning the drivetrain of the new vehicle, we will use the same motors and drives as last year’s car. We will review the concept of the whole assembly around the gearbox, with the goal to use stronger bolts to hold the parts together. This will result initially in an increase in weight, but also in an enormous increase in resistance of the car against external impulses. Reducing the total mass will be the challenge this year and will ask a lot of engineering work and optimization.
In next year’s car, electronics has managed to reduce the size of the cells who build up the battery. For the cooling of the battery this will result in a rearrangement of the different cells. This re-orientation will give a better airflow through the battery. We will be able to drive longer and on more power in a safe way. Because there are new rules this year, we will have to use a different material for the packaging of the cells and a redesign is necessary.
Lastly, for cooling of the motor and drives the cooling tubes will be revised. They will be thinner in diameter and by using flow simulations it can be seen where it would be better to use different materials on different places. The big focus however, lies in the radiators. We will collaborate with the department of aerodynamics to look at the ideal inlet speed and angle of the air into the radiators.
After making great steps forward last year, we can build further upon this coming year. Last month we discussed what parts of the electronics should be improved this year. One of the most important goals is to improve overall reliability of the electronics. A big part of this goal is making sure everything is tested beforehand, to be able to do this we are going to make sure that the different parts are backwards compatible with the previous car. This enables us to test everything in a car before the newest car is finished.
The biggest changes in the electronics department are to be found in the battery: the capacity will go down from 6.9 kWh to 5.5 kWh, this will reduce the weight with 8 kg. To make the battery even more lightweight we will use a new system for the relays. The battery will also use another microcontroller, enabling us to use a Real Time Operating System and making sure that the energy meter can be read out at higher rates.
The self-built ECU (Electronic Control Unit) last year was a success. This year we will bring some small improvements to increase the overall reliability and speed of the system. We will also further test and expand the Torque Vectoring program.
The telemetry and data logger system will be split into two systems, each using a new microcontroller. This enables the data logger to read out all data from the three CAN-busses at higher speeds.
The dashboard will be partly moved to the steering wheel, this increases the ease of use for the pilot. The dashboard will also get more functions, enabling the driver to adapt more parameters in the car from within the cockpit.
After adding the electric class in 2010, the Formula Student competition introduced the next leap forward in innovation by adding a driverless class 2 years ago. As the name says, these vehicles will drive over the track autonomously. To make it extra difficult, the tests that this car has to fulfill are exactly the same as those for the cars with driver. Nevertheless, Formula Electric Belgium wants to take on this challenge and aims to make the first Belgian autonomous electric racing car by 2020. To accomplish that mission, preparation is half the job. That is why we want to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible this year and establish long-lasting contacts with partners who want to support us in this goal!