SASKATOON — The Saskatchewan Polytechnic eco car team was at the Shell Eco-Marathon United States 2022 competition in Indianapolis April 10 to 13 — and brought home an award for 3D-printing the car’s body from recyclable materials.
The competition was held at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Sask Polytech had entries in two categories: Prototype and Urban Concept.
The prototype is a tiny, ultra-efficient, lightweight vehicle calculated for fuel economy. It was Sask Polytech’s first electric car to enter the competition. Its size was optimized to reduce aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance.
The prototype vehicle passed technical inspections after a few setbacks but was prevented from completing a valid run on the track after a storm rolled over the last day of competition.
Nevertheless, the team was happy to receive the off-track Technical Innovation Award for their urban concept vehicle. A special filament was used to 3D-print the body of the car, using a temperature-triggered, active-foaming technology to produce parts one-third the weight of traditional 3D-printed parts.
The urban concept car was designed for city driving. It had to account for comfort and luggage space in addition to fuel economy. The competition requirements included two doors, four wheels, full lighting, brakes, and horn.
The car was printed using recycled carbon fibre hockey sticks and powered by a 35-cc ice auger engine with a custom fuel injection system. It’s 372 miles-per-gallon US fuel efficiency rating earned it fourth place in its category — it missed third place by only a slim margin.
Sask Polytech has been competing in the Shell Eco-Marathon, one of the world’s leading student engineering competitions, since 2017. All of their entries since 2018 have had a frame made from recycled carbon fibre hockey sticks.
“I’m very proud of both of our student teams and their accomplishments,” said Tim Muench, program head for the Design and Manufacturing Engineering Technology program. Muench travelled with the teams to the competition in Indianapolis. “Throughout the competition students learns new technical skills, teamwork, and how to work under pressure. At the racetrack, students can see how other teams approach different design and manufacturing challenges. Congratulations to the team on their hard work on and off the track. We are so proud of you.”
Students from Sask Polytech’s Design and Manufacturing Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology, and Machinist and Electronic Systems Engineering Technology departments have been working on the project since September 2021, under the direction of Muench and Andrew Baerg, their designated faculty advisor.
“The exceptional performance of our students at the Shell Eco-Marathon reflects well on their talents and skills, as well as on the quality of Sask Polytech’s programs and faculty who guided and supported this challenge,” said Dr. Larry Rosia, Sask Polytech president and CEO. “Throughout the Shell Eco-Marathon our students used their problem-solving and teamwork skills to build innovative, energy-efficient cars. Congratulations to all of our students and faculty involved.”