Rotterdam 2015

Friendship trumped rivalry again today after Danish team DTU Roadrunners woke up to find their UrbanConcept ethanol car had caught fire in the paddock overnight. An electrical problem was suspected. While the engine compartment and firewall were badly damaged, said team spokesman Christian Goertz, many critical components were still intact.

The Roadrunners’ main rivals, Toulouse Ingénierie Multidisciplinaire (TIM) from France, stepped in to help, putting the Roadrunners in touch with team CATI Toulouse, who had aluminium panels to spare for bodywork repairs. TIM captain Michelle Loo said, “We see them as friends, not competitors. It’s normal that you help each other at such an event.” 

Tomorrow is the first competition day. Watch this space to see if the Roadrunners make it to the track. 

By late morning, 40 cars had yet to reach the technical inspection area for the first time, perhaps a littler slower than previous years. Technical team member Adrian Jurgens was impressed by the atmosphere of calm as teams tried to pass, then came back and tried again.

“The students are listening carefully to our feedback this year,” he said. “There’s very little anxiety.”

Rapid weight loss

Team Universiapolis Createurs from Morocco arrived at technical inspection a full 11kg over the 140kg Prototype weight limit. They had built their gasoline-fuelled car called – perhaps unfortunately – Minimiza 2.0 on a stainless steel frame with a thick fibreglass body.

Assistant manager Malik Reda Oikil explained how their car lost weight without compromising safety. With advice from technical inspectors, the team drilled big holes into its steel frame, removed a floor panel under the engine, then cut out sections of fibreglass  to replace them with lighter Plexiglas used in the windows. At the last count, its weight was 140kg and falling.

By 4pm, 124 teams had passed technical inspection in total – up 47 from Wednesday – while 23 teams had yet to make it to the testing stations. In all, nearly 600 individual tests had been carried out. All-time Prototype gasoline record holders Microjoule-La Joliverie from Nantes in France were feeling comfortable with their swap to Prototype CNG this year, team member Maxime Quillerée hoping for a 3,000km/l equivalent performance. 

In UrbanConcept hydrocarbon category, Team EVA from Hogeschool Van Amsterdam in the Netherlands, were baffled when their car kept shutting down every thirty minutes – a problem with the hydrogen fuel cell. Unable to fix it themselves, they have driven 200km to the manufacturer in Duisburg, Germany. Will they make it on track for the first competition day tomorrow?

Learning lots

As many as 11,000 schoolchildren visited the event’s first day, funnelling into the newly opened Energy Lab where they tried out the science-related games and exhibits before checking out the student’s cars in the paddock.

Melody and Geertje, aged 10, from Juliana School in Rotterdam said the most interesting thing was a quiz where they had to think about future types of energy.

“It’s a great opportunity for children to engage with technology in a way they can understand and relate to it – drawing, creating, and dancing around,” said elementary school teacher Saskia van Beurden.

Also today, Shell’s Powering Progress Together forum brought thought leaders together nearby – including Dutch Minister of Education Jet Bussemaker – to discuss the importance of inspiring the next generation of innovators through investment in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, also better meeting the needs of the labour market.

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