One of the world’s longest-running student competitions, Shell Eco-marathon is a global programme that challenges bright student minds to design and build ultra-energy- efficient cars, and then put them to the test in competition. As part of the ‘Make the Future Festival’ held in Singapore, the Sultanate will again be participating in Shell Eco-marathon Asia. With a contingent of two futuristic cars competing, the teams will challenge their peers on the track with their own energy-efficient designs. The marathon will bring over 120 student teams from 18 countries across Asia Pacific and the Middle East to put their self-built energy-efficient cars to the test.
One of the teams representing Oman were a group of Mechanical Engineers from the German University of Technology, geared for the exciting event, this is what they had to share with us.
Question: What got you interested in cars, especially eco cars?
Al Amri: I’m interested in cars because we are using them in our daily life and they are related to my major (Mechanical Engineering) If we talk about eco ones they are more interesting because they are better for our environment with less negative effects on our surroundings.
Al Dhuhli: Inspires me to think differently, finding new ways of designing cars.
Krishnan: I was interested in racing since I was in school, but I became more interested in the technical aspects of cars only after I started University. My brother follows Formula One, WRC, etc. because of which I was exposed to a lot of the issues faced by professional teams during races. I came to know more about eco cars and Shell Eco-Marathon from the previous years’ teams at GUtech.
Question: Why is this green movement towards environmentally friendly cars important?
Al Amri: Environmentally friendly cars are good for saving our environment because they work without excessive use of non-renewable power sources and some of them also function on electricity or renewable sources of energy; by that the gases produced by cars will be lesser than those produced by cars running on non-renewable power sources, helping to keep our environment cleaner and healthier for the future generations.
Al Maawali: It is important to keep our environment healthy and safe in order to reduce the problems caused by global warming since the energy used by cars and their emissions causes noticeable problems to the environment.
Al Dhuhli: To protect the environment and stop rising air pollution.
Krishnan: Since the emissions from Internal Combustion engines is known to aid Global warming, which has numerous other negative consequences, and since the majority of the population own such IC vehicles, it’s crucial to reduce such emissions by either improving the efficiency of existing vehicles, or by switching to cars that run on eco-friendlier energy sources such as Hydrogen or Electricity. Failure to do so may lead to extreme climate change in the future, the effects of which cannot be easily reversed then.
Question: What challenges did you face whilst trying to come up with a design?
Al Amri: The biggest challenge is finding the shape of the body design because we made it by ourselves and it was difficult to choose as the complicated design were a challenge as this was our first experience of designing a working model of such a car.
Al Maawali: Drawing the design on paper was something easy to do compared with dealing with the material and try to bend and fit the right shape, Belding and shaping the design of the body was the most challenging part, moreover choosing the right material which will be more efficient, light and easy to deal with was one of the challenges.
Al Dhuhli: Equipment. There are a variety of tools for designing but missing one special tool make things difficult to do a task.
Krishnan: Limited manufacturing options/expertise in Oman. Lack of experience making cars as we were all beginners. Finding time to work on the car after classes/coursework.
Question: What do you think is the future of these cars in the world and in Oman?
Al Amri: think eco-cars will be used widely in the future, one reason being that they are environmentally friendly, and the other reason is their efficiency. Nowadays in Oman, the prices of the oil are increasing, so that will make more people interested and consider eco and less fuel dependent cars.
Al Maawali: As the global warming is increasing, I see that the world needs to use Eco-friendly cars.
Al Dhuhli: The world looking for those cars if there is a success along the needed way.
Neeraj Krishnan: The category that we participate in (i.e. Prototype category) is only for proof of concept. The goal of this category is to see how far a vehicle can go on 1 litre of fuel (or equivalent energy). They are not meant to be practical for everyday use. However, Shell Eco-Marathon also consists of the Urban Concept category which is about making more practical cars. Technological advances and innovative design features of cars from this category can be incorporated into production vehicles someday.
Question: How is the experience of being selected and going to Singapore for the event?
Al Amri: This will add a special thing in my experience and it is a good chance to be part of this marathon and work with my team members hoping to score a very good result to be one of the best memories.
Al Maawali: with participating I have been able to practice more and put my skills and knowledge into action. And I was very proud to design, build and hope to drive the car in Singapore. It is the Experience which I will be proud of. In Addition, Shell is one of the biggest companies not only in Oman but worldwide and participating in such an event would help me have a future job as a process Engineer in Shell company or other huge companies.
Ahmed al Dhuhli: By choosing the best participating student in each section that designing the car needs it.
Krishnan: look forward to it.
Question: If you could share one piece of wisdom with the people of Oman about eco-friendly energy sources, what would it be?
Al Amri: Using eco-friendly energy sources helps in reducing CO2 emissions produced from machines that run on fuel and hence saving the environment.
Al Dhuhli: Development will comfort us and make trouble for next generations fast if there is a waste of using energy.
Krishnan: Although it doesn’t look so appealing currently due to factors such as high cost, in future, once the technology is a bit more refined, eco-friendly energy sources may be the only way forward.