Like previous days, our team had an early start; at 6:00am our team took Sofie to line up for racing. Even though prototype races started at 9:30am, we lined up early to get near the front of the queue to ensure we would be one of the first to race. Despite our very early wake-up, there were a few teams in front of us in line. In line, we conditioned our fuel cell (similar to how an athlete warms up before a race or game, our fuel cell performs best after having been running for a bit) because it allows the membranes in the fuel cell to become hydrated.
Our team had another early start this morning we lined up Alice at tech inspection at 7:45am to get in at 8:00am, when it opened. We passed with flying colours for most of the stations like Brakes, Safety Belt, Visibility, and Horn. Only the Hydrogen station gave us issues (the start-up cycle wouldn’t complete) and so we left tech inspection with 9/10 of our checks completed. Our Fuel Cell team worked diligently all morning to fix the issue. With tech inspection permanently closing at 4:00pm today, our team knows how crucial it is to pass this hydrogen test.
Like every other morning, the team woke up early to resume working on the car. This morning began with conditioning our fuel cell and making minor adjustments before we took Alice out onto the race track for 8:00AM.
As Alice took off from the start line, the team anxiously timed her first lap to see how fast we were going. We turned out to be a few seconds faster than the 2:24 average lap time needed to finish within 24 minutes! After completing our 10 laps, we finished with about 25 seconds to spare. We did it!… or so we thought. Upon crossing the finish line, we were informed that Shell’s flowmeter (which is used to track our fuel efficiency and how much hydrogen we used) stopped working after 6 laps. They would not extrapolate our fuel efficiency based on our first 6 laps, but they did give us another chance to race this morning.
This afternoon, our famed driver, Jason geared up and the team headed outside for our first attempt at the real race! Alice went smoothly out of the start gate, though Jason noticed that after each bump on the road, there was a grinding sound and the car slowed down significantly. About halfway through the first lap (twice as far as we made it last year), the car stopped working. Alice was towed the remainder of the lap so that we could transport her back into our paddock area.
Last night, the Electrical team was working away at full steam to sort out the hydrogen sensors and CANbus system to allow us to pass tech inspection. With the car never having functioned on a hydrogen fuel cell before, we still were not sure if the car would even move. This year, Shell implemented a new rule stating that teams could not work in the paddock area (where the cars and work stations are housed) from midnight until 6:00AM. As this midnight deadline approached, the pressure mounted to fix these issues so that we could go to tech inspection as soon as it opened the next morning. All hands were on deck as we were attempting to test all of the electrical systems with the fuel cell.
Happy Earth Day!!!
After our first tech inspection earlier this afternoon, we had a few minor adjustments that needed to be made. Tech inspection only stayed open until 7:00PM, and so we knew we only had a couple of hours after our first inspection to make these changes if we wanted to have a second inspection today.
Day 2 of the Shell Eco-marathon Americas began for the Electrical team early this morning debugging in preparation for the mandatory Technical Inspection.
At 8:30AM, the Shell Eco-marathon Americas officially began with the opening ceremonies followed by the annual photo of all SEMA teams and vehicles. The Chairman of Shell was present and welcomed all of us to Detroit. In the spirit of innovation and to capture all 200 or so vehicle teams in the photo, Shell used a drone to fly overhead and capture all of the teams with their cars!
The University of Alberta EcoCar team has launched a crowdfunding campaign! We need your help to continue to develop innovative projects and to improve our current and future cars. Any contribution really helps the team. Our crowdfunding campaign can be found here: https://ualberta.useed.net/projects/486/home