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Warner Electric helps Thomas More University go the distance in Shell Eco Marathon

10 October 2018

It’s common practice for the engineers of tomorrow to take part in global engineering challenges as part of their degree. However, few challenges are as relevant to the real world as the Shell Eco Marathon, which asks student teams around the world to design, build, test and drive ultra-energy-efficient vehicles. Warner Electric has sponsored students at Thomas More University for their entry into the urban concept class.

One of the biggest challenges for any automotive manufacturer is efficiency. No matter if a car is powered via internal combustion (ICE), a hybrid powertrain or a fully electric design, it is likely that its range between fill ups will be high on the list of customer priorities. This is why engineering challenges like the Shell Eco Marathon are so important, encouraging a new generation of engineers to pick up the mantle of automotive development. In particular, the Shell Eco Marathon is inclusive of all energy types, which is reflective of the modern mainstream automotive sector.

Based in Belgium, Thomas More University of Applied Sciences is the perfect fit for the challenge and for the last eight years has entered a team of budding engineers. Originally, the teams focussed on the Prototype vehicle classification, which is a more conceptual challenge. However, for the last four years they have chosen to compete in the Urban Concept class, where the design must incorporate road legal performance alongside ultimate energy efficiency.

Jordi Daelemans, Drivetrain and Suspension specialist (and the team’s reserve driver) comments: “We’re a team of 10 students, all coming from a different background and with different technical specialties and interests. By entering the Urban Concept class we still have the exciting challenge to produce the most energy efficiency car we can, but we have to combine this with practical functions that a road legal car would have, such as windscreen wipers, a horn, lights and a boot.

“Our design philosophy has been to focus on reduced weight and the smallest power supply possible – we’re using a 50-cc engine. We are also designing it with quality in mind. With a limited budget we need to make sure that all the components will fit first time and perform faultlessly.”

One of the challenges for any student team is sourcing high quality components while operating to a tight budget. When looking for a suitable clutch to engage and disengage the engine from the drivetrain, the team approached Warner Electric, part of Altra Industrial Motion Corporation, for support.

Christophe Carpentier, Area Sales Manager for Altra, explains: “When the Thomas More team approached us and explained the requirements of the challenge it was immediately apparent that we could support them. Having researched the Shell Eco Challenge and reviewed the design proposal from the Thomas More team, we chose to offer to sponsor the team by providing the product free of charge and through support and advice during the specification and installation of the part”.

Bertrand Zerna, Warner Linear Senior Applications Engineer, expands: “My function as application engineer is to help every one of our customers determine the best product for their application. This project demanded a lightweight clutch with a small footprint that would integrate with the existing drivetrain and require minimal energy to operate. Additionally, when engaged it would be required to transmit torque reliably with zero slip or backlash as this would impact on the energy efficiency of the vehicle.

“After consultation with the student team I was able to recommend a shaft mounted clutch coupling from our SFM series.”

The SFM VAR 11 bearing-mounted clutch coupling from Warner Electric’s range of shaft-mounted electro-magnetic clutches was identified as the best fit for the project. Available in seven different sizes, the smallest in the group (Size 10) delivers up to 7 Nm torque with a maximum speed of 8,000 rpm. At 12.5 volts and only 790 grams, the clutch is mounted to the shaft via a keyway design and integrated seamlessly with the car’s lightweight design philosophy.

Jordi continues: “The biggest challenge of the project was time. Designing, testing, manufacturing and assembly all had to completed inside four months. With this in mind, the support from Warner Electric was invaluable as they made sure that the clutch was the perfect fit, first time.

“In addition to the on-track award for the vehicle that delivers the best performance in terms of kilometres per litre, we will also be hoping to do well in the Technical Innovation Award for the lightweight design we’ve produced.”

Altra’s combined support

Another of the popular Altra brands also supported the team’s Shell Eco Marathon entry, proving the value of Altra’s combined services. Stieber Clutch supplied the team with four CSK freewheel bearings for the wheel arrangements.

Jordi Daelemans: “Stieber helped us to choose the right freewheel for our application and helped to design the perfect bearing arrangement in the wheel. The component played an important role in our design. Without the freewheel bearing it would not have been possible to participate in the event.”

For more information, please contact:

Steve Carter
7 rue Champfleur
49182 St Barthelemy d'Anjou 
Tel:  +44 1933 685811 Fax: 
Email: Steve.carter@altramotion.com
Web:  www.warnerelectric-eu.com
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