27 februari 2017 • Lotte Hoes
‘We plan to complete the race without any hiccups’
Racing on the Silverstone Circuit in England as long and using as little energy as possible – that is the goal that Formula Cruisers, made up of students of the Faculty of Technology, Innovation & Society in Delft, had in mind last year when they started building their racing car. The car is far from finished, but they are getting ever closer to their goal. At any rate, they now have the guarantee that they can participate in the race on 20 July!
The Silverstone Race is part of the Formula Student, an annual competition open to students of technical degree programmes. Faculty of Technology, Innovation & Society students are contributing to the construction of the Formula Cruiser in different ways. ‘We’re working in shifts of several months,’ explains lecturer Peter Menger. ‘Some students are participating as part of a Minor programme or internship. There are also lots of international students working on the project.’
One of the conditions for participating in the Formula Student is that the car must be electrically driven. This should not be a problem, considering the fact that there is room under the hood of the Formula Cruiser for 1,152 cells. The participating vehicles are not only assessed for speed, but also durability, presentation, safety and other aspects. The latter has been the focus of Axel Dijksman, Electrical and Electronic Engineering student. He has been working on the Cruiser as part of his Minor for the last six months. ‘In the past, lots of similar cars were rejected because they simply weren’t safe enough.’ He points to the lithium batteries to be installed under the hood. ‘These are quite flammable, so we always have fire extinguishers close by. We also place them in a fire-resistant casing in case they catch on fire while the vehicle is being driven. By the way, the chance of that happening is minuscule. We can monitor the temperature in that casing very closely.’
The Formula Cruiser can also withstand a collision. ‘That’s because the frame is made of steel instead of the usual carbon. Steel is a lot bulkier and heavier. So if we crash into another car, we are a lot less likely to suffer much damage.’ At any rate, in spite of all the efforts the students have put into the Formula Cruiser these past months, Axel does not believe that the Faculty of Technology, Innovation & Society will win this year’s race. ‘We are not at all under the illusion that we have the best car. Some of the teams are already working on the 17th version of their car, while this is only our second. But we do plan to complete those 22 kilometres without any hiccups.’