Bath’s Formula Student teams gear up for electric v combustion clash

The University of Bath is entering both an electric and combustion vehicle at this year’s Formula Student UK competition, setting up a clash of the technologies.

Formula Student

Taking place at Silverstone in July, the UK edition of Formula Student (FS) is the only one in which electric and combustion vehicles compete directly. With Bath the only university competing in both categories, particular interest will be paid to how its teams perform and who walks away with the bragging rights.

Team Bath Racing’s (TBR) combustion car is a brand new design. Its most significant change is a revamped engine, moving away from the 510cc engine that has powered the team since 2015 in favour of a KTM 690cc single cylinder unit. The team has heavily modified this, adding a turbocharger and switching the fuel from standard petrol to E85, a more powerful and environmentally friendly mix of 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent petrol. According to TBR, these changes have resulted in the car producing 70 bhp and 77.5 Nm of torque.

“It’s such a delight to finally reveal to everyone the car we have been working on since February 2017,” said Nick Upjohn, TBR18 team manager.

“So many hours of hard work and dedication from this year’s fantastic team has gone into taking this project from ideas written on a whiteboard to a working race car, for which the team can be immensely proud. We still have plenty of work to do, preparing for our static events as well as the dynamics, but we’ll be ready for our competitions in the UK, Hungary and Austria.”

New power generation – Bath goes electric at Formula Student

Meanwhile, Team Bath Racing Electric’s (TBRe) new car will run on a single motor powertrain, with the students focussing on innovation in high voltage battery design. Cylindrical cells have been selected for their power density and packaged with a focus on weight reduction and cooling efficiency. The team has also built a 100 per cent redundancy for the high voltage battery, reducing risk in the highest complexity system.

“TBRe has grown significantly over the past year, with a 64 per cent increase in the number of students choosing to participate in Formula Student as part of their degree,” said TBRe18 team manager, Elizabeth Maclennan.

“We are hugely grateful for the support of our many sponsors, especially SAIC Motor Technical Centre UK whose invaluable support and longstanding relationship with the University has meant many students have been able to complete automotive engineering placements with SAIC, as well as making it possible for TBRe18 to compete at our first ever international FS event.”