The Ultimate Energy Efficiency Challenge

The Faculty of Engineering and the Innovation Design Lab at the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST) have selected a team of six young, bright and aspiring engineering students to participate in the 2018 South Africa Shell Eco-Marathon Challenge. The Shell Eco-Marathon, one of the world’s leading energy efficiency competition programme, challenges student teams around the world to design, build, test and drive ultra-energy-efficient vehicles. Students take their designs to the track to see which vehicle can compete to go the farthest on the least amount of fuel. The competition, that  will take place at the  Zwartkops Raceway,  is split into two categories. The Prototype class focuses on maximum efficiency, while the Urban class encourages more practical designs.

Cars are also divided by energy type:

  • Internal combustion engine fuels include petrol, diesel, liquid fuel made from natural gas and ethanol.
  • In the electric mobility category, vehicles are powered by hydrogen fuel cells and lithium-based batteries.

The mileage competition

Over several days, teams make as many attempts as possible to travel the furthest on the equivalent of one litre of fuel. Cars drive a fixed number of laps around the circuit at a set speed. Organizers calculate their energy efficiency and name a winner in each class and for each energy source. Off-track awards recognise other achievements including safety, teamwork and design. The competition inspires the engineers of the future to turn their vision of sustainable mobility into reality, if only for a few days. It also sparks passionate debate about what could one day be possible for cars on the road.

The Drivers’ World Championship

The Drivers’ World Championship challenges students to combine speed with energy-efficiency in a race to cross the finish line first, without depleting their car of energy. Three regional competitions are held, including the one in South Africa, followed by the Grand Final in Europe. The 3 top teams from each region qualify for the Grand Final, with 9 teams in total vying for the title of the world’s most efficient driver. This year the stakes are high as the winners get to experience exclusive, behind-the-scenes access at Scuderia Ferrari headquarters in Maranello, Italy. The NUST team consisting of nine students is mentored by a Mechanical Engineering lecturer, an Electronics lecturer from the Faculty of Engineering and the Director of the Innovation Design Lab, Prof Pio Barone Lumaga. NUST will be representing the nation as the first and only Namibian competitors ever in the history of the Challenge.

The NUST team, named Namibia Eco Riders will be competing in the electrical battery category, which is judged by how efficiently the battery puts out power per unit distance. Due to the complex nature of automotive engineering, the team members represent multiple disciplines and fields of engineering. NUST will be representing the nation as the first and only Namibian competitors ever in the history of the Challenge.