Our Eco-Car Team were again crowned Champions of the 2018 Shell Eco-Marathon: South Africa (SEM: SA) in their category this last weekend in blisteringly hot conditions at the Zwartkops Raceway in Mid-Rand, Gauteng. This year’s event saw a record entry of 21 competitors from 4 different African countries, including International University entrants from Nigeria, Botswana and Namibia.

This is the third time in a row that the team has won this accolade, each time shattering the previous event records. The team efforts this time around saw a new event record of 220 km/l set for a petrol engine vehicle, which is equivalent to a standard car with a 70 litre tank managing to drive 15,393 km without refilling! This was a further huge 20% improvement on last year’s result, and an overall 73% improvement on their first attempt in 2016.

This year’s winning team of South African, and effectively African, Champions consisted of team leader Byron Blakey-Milner, driver Nureen Hoosein, Chris Abraham, Lehlohonolo ‘Prince’ Sekere and Dale Flynn. They were accompanied and supported on the event by Mechanical Engineering staff members Clive Hands, Mervin Knoesen and Amish Lalla. The team introduced several new innovations this year including metal 3D printed titanium parts that had been topology optimized and lattice-designed, a bespoke telemetry system, and a light-weighting regime that saw a further 5 kg shaved off the previous year’s record-breaking vehicle.

The team has expanded its area of interest to involve the University of Stellenbosch’s MicroCT Scanning Centre, the national centre for Additive Manufacturing CRPM at CUT, and has sponsorship from Altair Europe, who has also provided the University with free use of their advanced analysis software suite of products across all Faculties, and has proved a consistent cross-disciplinary and cross-instructional success.

Both Clive and Byron recently attended the prestigious Altair ATC: Europe Technical Conference in Paris, where a presentation was made to an international audience of both academics and leading industry figures, which included representatives from Boeing, Airbus, Mercedes, BMW, European Space Agency (ESA), Jaguar-Land Rover, Volvo, LG and Ferrari among the nearly 1,000 delegates.

They will also attend the upcoming RAPDASA Conference in Johannesburg next week to present a paper on the work done in the development of the Topology Optimized and Lattice-Designed components successfully used in this year’s winning vehicle in the 2018 SEM: SA in tandem with the CT Scanning Centre (UStellenbosch) and CRPM (CUT) to the attending academic and industry members representing the burgeoning South Africa Additive Manufacturing community.

The triple Championship-winning and record-breaking NMU Eco-Car Team for the 2018 Shell Eco-Marathon: South Africa are pictured with the Eco-Car, the trophy and their prize money: (from left to right) Senior Technician,  Mr Mervin Knoesen, Mr Clive Hands ( Lecturer at Department of Mechanical Engineering), Mr Byron Blakey-Milner (Mechatronics Student ) , Mr Chris Abraham (Mechatronics Student) , Lehlohonolo ‘Prince’ Sekere(Mechatronics Student) , Ms Amish Lalla (Lab Technician), Mr Dale Flynn (Academic Assistant) and Mr Nureen Hoosein (Driver).