The 'Kernow Karr' and team at the Shell eco-marathon event.

Cornish students bring successful new twist to ‘British Racing Green’ motorsport history.

For more than a century, British Racing Green has been synonymous with some of the country’s greatest achievements in motorsport.

Now, a group of intrepid Cornish university students have staked a claim to add their own unique environmental take to this famous racing branding by competing in a special, pan-European eco-racing competition.

A 12-strong team of students from the Penryn Campus, near Falmouth recently competed in the Shell Eco-marathon competition, held in Rotterdam, Holland.

The team, which was supported by the University of Exeter's Annual Fund, enjoyed considerable success at the event. Not only was the hydrogen fuel-cell car chosen to represent Great Britain in the competition’s opening ceremony, the team also managed to produce the equivalent of 623 miles to the gallon of petrol during the race itself.

Dr Adam Feldman, Lecturer in Renewable Energy at the University of Exeter and who helped coordinate the team, praised the students for their “hard-work, dedication and success”.

Dr Feldman said: “This was our first time entering the competition, and the students had a number of complex technical hurdles to pass in the designing and constructing of the car before being able to race. The judges were full of praise for the car, not just because it passed the strict pre-race scrutiny but also because we used a high-tech wooden-chassis, rather than the more popular carbon-fibre models that most universities use.

“Given that this was our first foray into competing at the event, we thought that getting to the race itself and competing one lap would be a remarkable achievement.  But we managed to complete 3 laps, covering a distance of 4.8km, on the miniscule quantity of hydrogen fuel and this was quite superb!”

The celebrated Shell Eco-marathon, now in its 29th year, challenges student teams to design, build and test ultra-energy efficient vehicles.

Those teams that pass stringent race scrutineering then compete around up to 10 laps of a specially-designed race course, to determine which is the most fuel-efficient.

The Cornwall team, made up from third-year students on the Renewable Energy Engineering degree at the University of Exeter and the Sustainable Product Design degree course at Falmouth University, competed against more than 3,000 students from 200 teams, who came from 26 countries across Europe and parts of Africa.

Dr Feldman added: “It was an outstanding event with superb engineering and testing facilities – it gave the students a taste of what it is like to be working in the high-end engineering environment of a  motor-sport paddock.

“The track was challenging, with a combination of straights, tight and shallow curves, and we really surpassed our own expectations by being the leading hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicle from all the British teams to have entered.

 “We also had a great time, learned so much  and are already raring to go to improve in next year’s event.”

Date: 28 May 2014

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