AIT making car racing green

Dara Browne

Ireland’s first electric race car is being developed by students in Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT).

Students in their third and final year of the Mechanical Engineering degree are working on the project, which will be brought to Mondello Park for testing, once completed.

Breda Lynch, head of the Department of Polymer, Mechanical and Design, told Irish Tech News that the institute are working on several other projects surrounding the areas of sensor technology and autonomous vehicles.

“We are currently conducting extensive research in areas such as the light weighting of polymeric materials, sensor technology, autonomous vehicles, AR/VR and have established strong links with companies interested in space,” she said.

The race car uses an electric motor instead of a combustion engine, which could reduce emissions and rid fossil fuels from motor racing.

The car is more environmentally friendly, however Steven Gribbin, Production Engineer for ASML Holding, strongly disagrees.

“Motorsport isn’t simply about how fast you can go; it’s a spectacle, and glamorous in a way. I’ve raced go karts most of my life and the best part about a two stroke combustion engine isn’t the fierce speed, it’s the smell and the noise,” Gribbin said.

“It makes a difference, you’re way more in touch with it. When I drive electric cars or karts and the sensation is numb, there’s no communication between the machine.”

Gribbin hopes that the electric race car does not become the norm, due to the lack of excitement and the fact that the electric car is just as bad for the environment as the regular race car.

“The batteries are made of lithium ion which causes so much damage to the planet it’s almost on a par with the oil refinery process,” Gribbin said.

AIT have been very successful over the past few years, including being awarded The Sunday Times ‘Institute of Technology of the Year 2020, 2018 and Runner-Up in 2017.

The institute is also ranked as Ireland’s number one for student satisfaction for six consecutive years and has been listed on U-Multirank’s ‘Top 25 Performing Universities in the World for Interdisciplinary Research’ in the last two years.

During the development of the project, the students had to manage costs of parts, complete literature reviews as well as prepare presentations and part of their assessment.

The car will be aimed at Future Classics Race Series and featured in Retro Classics Magazine and companies such as Westward, Scania, and Smyth Gates have expressed a keen interest in the car.


Dara Browne

Image Credit: PxFuel