Galway energy-efficient car wins top prize at European competition

geec car galway efficient car wins top prize

A team of engineering students from NUI Galway has been awarded first place for technical innovation at Shell Eco-marathon Europe- Europe’s top competition for ultra-efficient vehicles.

Geec – the Galway energy-efficient car – is Ireland’s most efficient car, capable of travelling over 350 km on one unit of electricity, which means driving from Galway to Dublin for less than 15 cents’ worth of electricity.

Geec gets the equivalent of 10,000 miles per gallon of diesel.

Reacting to the win, NUI Galway President Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “Problem-solving at the service of society is at the very heart of our students’ learning experience.

“With their award-winning work on the Geec project, our NUI Galway Engineering students have brought their talent and ingenuity to bear on one of the most important challenges of our time – energy efficient transportation.

“I am delighted to pay tribute to their international success and I commend colleagues – academics, mentors and technicians from the College of Engineering and Informatics – and all those involved in supporting this important student initiative.”

This year 149 of the best engineering schools and universities in Europe qualified, built cars and sent teams to Shell Eco-marathon Europe in London.

Over 2,000 students, from Morocco to Siberia, took part. The award recognises the single best innovation on any car across all competition categories.

The Geec is Ireland’s first, and so far, only competitor at Shell Eco-marathon Europe, the world’s toughest test for ultra-efficient vehicles. Student teams battle it out in a 15-km race where efficiency, not speed, is what counts.

All the world’s cars, vans, trucks, buses, trains, airplanes and boats consume a third of the world’s energy and belch out a quarter of earth’s human-made greenhouse gas emissions, so developing highly efficient, low-emissions technologies is of paramount importance.

Competitors design, build, test and drive their own creations in a true test of ingenuity, grit and driving skills.

For the last four years, the Geec has flown the flag for Ireland in the battery-electric category, finishing 23rd out of 50 in 2015, rising to 13th in 2017.

This year’s Geec won the prestigious Technical Innovation Award, which is presented by Shell to the team which demonstrates outstanding technical ingenuity along with optimal use of new materials, components and inventions in their drive train, chassis, body, instrumentation and tyres.

The award was given to the NUI Galway team for an effective and simple approach to lower aerodynamic undercarriage drag. The wheels of a car can be a major source of aerodynamic drag or wind resistance, especially when the car’s main body has very low drag, like the teardrop-shaped, three-wheeled Geec. The innovation attacks this problem and is largely due to student Tom Dillon from Barna, Co. Galway, but is just one of the latest stages in a complex team project that has evolved for five years.

Tom explains: “Our new innovation is an aerodynamic seal that minimises the gap between the wheels and the car’s body at all times. From computer simulations of our car, we found that this new design offers a potential 27% reduction in aerodynamic drag.”

Professor Peter McHugh, Dean of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “This result puts us firmly on the map as one of the premier engineering schools in the world for the depth and quality of our education and for our mentorship and support of students.”