Durham gets best ever result in Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2019

The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge – a 3022km race across central Australia, cruising at highway speeds using less power than a hairdryer; with over 50 teams from 24 countries competing it is easily the largest and most exciting Solar race in the world. We went out as a team of 16 engineers from Durham University to race our solar-powered race car that we’d been building for two years. Needless to say, we were all excited! The race itself began on the 13th of October, with all the solar cars setting off from Darwen Town Hall to begin the 3022km journey.

Figure The car making its way south from Darwin, NT

The rules of the race allow you to drive between 08:00 and 17:00 each day, meaning wherever you are at 17:00 is where you must stop for the night, in the middle of the Australian desert. Spending each night with nothing but flat desert for hundreds of miles, and billions of stars is a highlight of the trip!

Figure 2: A drone shot of one of our camp spots

We kept a steady 15th place throughout the race, making our way between the 9 control stops spread across the route. However, at the end of the penultimate day we made a pretty drastic discovery – our estimation for state of charge was completely off and had been for the entire race. While initially disheartening, we took it on the chin and geared up to take the final day by storm. With more than enough charge in the pack, we were able to drive at 80kph for pretty much the whole day, overtaking a Swiss team to take 14th place!

At 17:00 on Friday the 18th of October, we reached kilometre 2830 where we took this photo – just 180km shy of the finish line.

Figure 3: 2830km, the end of our race

This photo holds more emotion than I could possibly put into words, it’s the culmination of two years of hard-work and dedication from just a handful of brilliant young engineers. Despite not making the full distance, as the sun set over the horizon illuminating the array one last time, we were all smiling – proud of what we had achieved.

DUEM outreach visits Ings Farm Primary School

On 2nd March 2020 the DUEM Outreach team visited Ings Farm Primary School to help with the ‘If I were an Engineer…’ project for the second year running in local primary schools. The project focuses on getting students to think like an engineer, by identifying problems and brainstorming ideas to tackle the issues. Throughout the week, the students then develop their solutions further before writing a letter alongside the design persuading engineers to choose and build their design. Last year the DUEM Outreach team helped 35 Kingsley primary school students display their work in a public exhibition, with one of the students going on to win the regional competition for her year group, and we are sure that Ings Farm can do just as well, if not better!

On the day, the Durham University engineers gave an assembly in the morning to the entire school explaining what engineering actually is, and their journey through primary and secondary school to becoming an engineering student. After giving some examples of everyday problems and possible solutions, the team then showed the students a video of the Durham University Solar Car, which has been built as a solution to the current global problem of climate change.

Having engaged with all 360 students at Ings Farm Primary School throughout the day, it was great to hear the fantastic ideas that the students had, with many of them very excited to hear the engineering students’ feedback to their design! In addition, many of the students were choosing to design sustainable solutions to tackle climate change and global warming, such as devices to recycle litter from oceans and with students considering global problems at such a young age, this makes us feel very positive for the future!

The Outreach team thoroughly enjoyed the day and it sounds like the students did too, with Ings Farm saying the following about the day:

We feel very privileged to have had two representatives from DUEM visit us on Monday and talk to the children about their chosen areas of engineering. Over 360 children from Y1 to Y6 had the opportunity to chat to the students and share their ideas for the competition question ‘If you were an engineer, what would you do?’ The children came away from the assembly and the class sessions truly inspired and buzzing with ideas. Thank you so much for engaging and inspiring our children. I’m looking forward to seeing their competition entries over the next week or so. Please return to us in the future!

DUEM returns to the Schools’ Science Festival

Between the 2nd and 4th April, the DUEM Outreach team took part in the Schools’ Science Festival hosted at Durham University, an event attended by 780 pupils in years 9-10 from 27 schools across the local area, where they learnt what science is really used for in the real world. The aim of the event is to encourage wider participation in STEM subjects and hopefully inspire the next wave of scientists, so to get the young minds working, the team set the task of designing a solar plane to the pupils; and the responses were as creative as they were exceptional!

Not only are the Outreach team very thankful for being able to participate in the festival for the second year running, but the students also really enjoyed the solar activity, with many saying they liked the ‘interactive’ and ‘hands-on’ nature of the activities, and some describing the activity as their ‘best session’!

DUEM at Kingsley Primary School

On the 22nd of March 2019, the DUEM outreach team and Head of Electrical visited Kingsley Primary School in Hartlepool to talk to students about the solar car and what it’s like to be an engineer. The pupils had been taking part in a week-long project titled ‘If I were an engineer’ where they had to come up with unique and ingenious solutions to everyday problems. The team kicked off the final day of this project by giving a talk to KS1 and KS2 students about the work they’ve been doing on the car, as well as other examples of solar power such as the Solar Impulse plane. The rest of the day was spent working through the various inventions that the 500 pupils had come up with, answering questions, and suggesting how their designs could implement more renewable power sources.

Kingsley Primary School were very grateful for the opportunity and said the following:
‘On behalf of all the children and staff at Kingsley, I would like to say a huge thank you to the DUEM outreach team for supporting our recent STEM project. The children (and teachers) were amazed by their work on the solar car and were very excited at having the opportunity to speak to the team in their classroom, where they could find out more about their work and seek support the with their own designs. The whole week was a success and, thanks to the team, I think we have some budding engineers in our midst!’

DUEM and Corbeau announce Sponsorship Partnership!

DUEM are delighted to announce a brand new sponsor of the project. Corbeau Seats Ltd., the first motorsport seat manufacturer in the world, are partnering with DUEM, providing their safety expertise across a number of areas to the team as they gear up to Australia in 2019. This includes their incredible lightweight harnesses which Corbeau are custom-designing for our solar car.

Steve Hannon, of Corbeau, said:

“Corbeau are proud to be a part of the DUEM solar car project, safety through innovation is our key ethos and we feel this ties in perfectly with the project. The team at DUEM are taking an innovative stance towards a potential future for the automotive industry. We are delighted to be working with them across our product range, developing custom solutions including our world-leading harnesses to aid the safety of the Solar Car, allowing innovations to move forwards.”

Corbeau Seats Ltd was the first motorsport seat manufacturer in the world. Founded in 1963 by original owner Colin Folwell, Colin found that standard road seats in his race car did not offer the support nor protection required by the tremendous speeds being produced by race cars at the time. He then developed the first ever race car seat in East Sussex, where Corbeau Seats still proudly produce road and race seats. 55 years on, Corbeau are still proud to be manufacturing motorsport, classic and road seats to high internal standards, ensuring they continue to keep drivers and passengers safe. In 1992 Corbeau became the first British manufacturer to acquire FIA homologation on our motorsport seats, further topped in 2016 with the introduction of the FIA 8862-2009, 10 year homologated, Predator seat.

DUEM at CarFest South

DUEM are delighted to announce that we will be attending this weekend’s CarFest South. Led by Chris Evans and his BBC Radio 2 team, the event combines cars, live music and family fun for a truly unforgettable weekend. The event raises money for BBC Children In Need. We are thrilled to be exhibiting here, in front of over 30,000 visitors a day!

We’d like to thank the organisers as well as our partners and sponsors for their vital and continued support. This will be a tremendous event for the whole team and we’d love to see you there from 24-26 August. Stay tuned across our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and our DriveTribe pages for more news and updates as we build up to yet another milestone event.

Looking ahead to Goodwood 2018

A major part of DUEM’s mission is to promote our project and sustainability across the world, educating the public about climate change in the process. One of our major annual events is the Goodwood Festival of Speed. DUEM have attended this twice previously – in 2016 and 2017 – and are delighted to announce that they will be returning to exhibit at this year’s event.

From 12-15th July over a quarter of a million people will attend this major event, to not only see the latest and greatest supercars, but areas like Formula 1, pre-war cars and much more. The highlight will be the daily hillclimb where all of these categories of vehicles, and more, will race up the famous Goodwood hill to set new records.

This is a tremendous opportunity for DUEM to promote our project and partners on the world stage and we are delighted to be returning for the third time to this historic event. Check out the YouTube video below which gives you an insight into the event in 2017. We are super excited to be attending this year and stay tuned across our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our solar car tribe on DriveTribe for all the latest updates from the team.

DUEM’s Formula E Experience

This year DUEM celebrates its 16th anniversary and continues their marketing push across Europe. The team presented at Cleantech Innovate 2018 in front of 400 investors at the historic Faraday Lecture Theatre in London’s Royal Institution back in March of this year. We saw incredible interest in the car, its technology and future platform opportunities.

One of the key aspects of our project is promoting our technology to a global audience and it is one of the key reasons for sponsors linking with us. No better opportunity exists than with Formula E, the world’s premier electric vehicle racing championship. DUEM are regular viewers and followers of the series given the clear links between our two competitions. The series has gone from strength to strength and provides an ideal opportunity to promote the project on the world stage.

To that end, DUEM have now attended 4 Formula E-Prix’s in historic locations across Europe. The team first exhibited in Rome, meeting key individuals, before taking our current generation solar car – DUSC – to the Paris round. The team saw incredible interest at the Paris E-Village, in front of tens of thousands of spectators and visitors from around the world. This continued at the Berlin round where the team promoted the project, this time in the Start-Up Zone within the old Tempelhof Airport. Most recently, the team travelled to the Zurich round – the first race held in Switzerland in over 60 years.

Check out our highlights reel here from the Rome, Paris and Berlin E-Prix’s:

And if you’re still interested, feel free to flick through some of our pictures from the experience:

The next season of Formula E will be a step change with a brand new car platform, combined with more teams and new drivers. The future is certainly electric and DUEM are very excited to be a part of this journey, working with Formula E to promote sustainable innovation to the masses. Stay tuned for yet more exciting news on the horizon; 2018 is far from over yet for DUEM!

DUEM at EcoFest

The DUEM team recently presented their current solar car, DUSC, at the local event EcoFest, hosted at St. John’s Church in Neville’s Cross, Durham on 10th June. The festival was marking its 10th anniversary and the theme of the day was energy. Despite the rainy weather attempting to spoil the day, the event was a huge success with hundreds of locals spanning all ages attending the event. The interest in the solar car was humbling and incredibly diverse, ranging from parents and grandparents who were interested in the science of the car, many of whom had heard about the solar car on local news channels, to children who couldn’t wait to hop inside the cockpit and feel what it’s like to drive the car. Having received positive feedback from the organisers about our attendance at the event, we will certainly be looking to return next year!

DUEM at STEMfest

After gratefully accepting the offer to participate in the all-girls STEMfest event, organised by Stanley Black and Decker, in partnership with Greenlight for Girls and held at UTC South Durham on 11th April, we were pleased to show off the car to the enthusiastic students who had actively chosen to attend the event. With many questions targeted specifically to solar power generation and the solar car itself, we happily shared our knowledge with the aim to encourage the 60 youngsters, aged between 11 and 15, to follow a STEM-based education. Feedback from the event proved that the event was hugely successful, and we look forward to participating in many future events. 

Check out this feature in the Northern Echo on this event.