x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Students compete to find most efficient hybrid car

The winner of Taqa Hybrid-Electric Challenge will be the team whose car travels the furthest in two days with a limited amount of energy and fuel.

Taqa, Abu Dhabi’s Natural Energy Company, unveiled 2 hybrid cars that will be take part in the forthcoming race. Lee Hoagland / The National
Taqa, Abu Dhabi’s Natural Energy Company, unveiled 2 hybrid cars that will be take part in the forthcoming race. Lee Hoagland / The National

ABU DHABI// Engineering students from across the Arabian Gulf will be showcasing their designs in a hybrid car competition later this month.

The 2014 Taqa Hybrid-Electric Challenge takes place on January 30 and 31 at the capital’s Al Forsan racetrack.

“This event gives engineering students the opportunity to try out what they have learned in the classroom in a competitive environment,” said Dr Saif Al Sayari, executive officer and head of energy solutions for Taqa, Abu Dhabi’s national energy company.

At an official launch on Monday, the rules of the contest and number of competitors were announced.

The 11 competing teams have been provided with all the components needed to build their cars. They were allowed to augment any design aspects except its electric batteries, generator and charger.

The winner will not be the car that goes the fastest but the vehicle that travels the furthest using only a limited amount of energy and fuel.

The cars will be what are known in the industry as series hybrids, in which the electric motor can receive energy from either a battery or from a generator run by a petrol engine.

“This is a lesson in energy management which they then carry into any job they take,” said Dr Nabih Bedewi, the managing director of Global EEE, a US-based non-profit organisation that has arranged similar races across the globe for the past two decades.

The students come from UAE University, Abu Dhabi University, Khalifa University and the Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi, Oman’s Nizwa College of Technology, the College of Technological Studies in Kuwait and Qatar University.

Also taking part are three teams from The Petroleum Institute University and Research Centre in the capital, which is hosting the event with the support of the Emirates Foundation.

On day one of the race, each of the 11 cars will be charged with 1.5 kilowatt hours of electricity before they hit the track. On the second day, the cars will have to rely on whatever is left in the electric battery, as well as 3.8 litres of petrol.

The students will have to decide between two design options for their cars – placing the electric generators and chargers on board the vehicles, or opting for the off-board option with the equipment in the pit.

The first option means cars need only short pit stops to add fuel, while the second will require pit stops as long as 15 minutes to charge the car batteries. It will mean, however, that the cars are lighter and require less energy to run.

Dr Bedawi said series hybrid cars were incredibly efficient.

“A series hybrid, which can run as an electric car or a hybrid, can have four to five times better fuel economy than a regular vehicle,” he said.