Students team up with hydrogen-powered 'car of the future'

Students team up with hydrogen-powered 'car of the future'

Students from the University of Aberdeen and Strathclyde University have teamed up to design a hydrogen-electric powered 'car of the future' as part of this year's Shell Eco-marathon competition.

It was designed in just under 24 hours by ProtoSEV – a team comprising of 10 students from Aberdeen and Strathclyde Universities’ respective engineering teams, PrototAU and USEV.

The students unveiled their vision of a car for the year 2040 last week, in a presentation to Norman Koch, Global General Manager for Shell Eco-marathon. 

It consists of a monocoque, carbon fibre chassis and is powered by both a small battery, designed for start-stop driving in urban areas, and a hydrogen fuel cell, which can be used for longer trips.  The battery technology is cobalt-free, which is costly to mine and harmful to the environment.

Other elements of the car’s design include regenerative shock absorbers to increase the vehicle’s range, with eco-friendly polymer for the interior of the vehicle and carbon fibre reinforced polymer for the body.

Its futuristic design also includes a window display featuring an augmented reality view of the road.

Waqaas Zia, PrototAU President, said: “We decided to create a Hydrogen-electric hybrid to emulate the relationship between the two teams, and use all of our experience of competing in previous Eco-marathon competitions.

“We also thought carefully about what we might realistically expect to come to fruition in the years to come, in terms of future technology that we might see on the road.  The result is a car that we’re very proud of, and we’re confident will make an impact in the Eco-marathon.”

Having achieved success in previous competitions, including in 2019 where it picked up the “Most Innovative Hydrogen Fuel Cell Newcomer” award for their prototype vehicle, Team PrototAU is a well-known competitor in the Eco-marathon.

But Waqaas said that the chance to collaborate with their counterparts from Strathclyde to create ProtoSEV offered a new experience that both university teams have benefited from.

He said: “When we were working together, one thing that I found really interesting was how quickly the two teams clicked.  When we were actually teaching each other there was a genuine interest in the other team.”

“In terms of the actual collaboration, I thought this was one of the best ones that I'd been a part of.”


*Covid-19 restrictions mean that much of the programme for this year’s Shell Eco-marathon competition will be held virtually, with physical competition elements, where and when possible. 

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