Days 1 and 2 at SEME and DWC – Setting up for Success

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We’re in London for the Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2016 and the inaugural Drivers’ World Championship! The team was greeted with warm weather as most of our members met up and headed to the venue, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

First item on the list – team registration. This is required by all teams attending the competition and is where we get our participant badges, official team number sticker, etc. Two members of our team, Jerry and Harry, joined the immense queue and began the process. Unfortunately, the line was so long that this process took several hours. After finally getting this sorted out, we headed to the paddocks area to locate our designated working spot (paddock) and the big crate containing our car and equipment. We found our spot but couldn’t find our crate. After asking around a little, we were informed that the crate was too heavy to bring inside the paddocks area and was placed outside. A little relieved at this discovery, we found the crate, unpacked it, and brought everything to our paddock.

The rest of the day was spent organising the items from the crate. After a hurried lunch/dinner before the facilities closed at 8:15 pm, the team exited the Olympic Park to get some much needed sleep where a surprise awaited us. Shell was providing hotel apartment accommodation for only eight members. However, when we got to the apartments, we found that there were enough beds for all thirteen of us! We are now trying to cancel the AirBnb we rented. After this happy discovery, everyone powered down and tucked in for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day!

The next day, we started working on the car at 6:15 am. It was the first day of the daunting technical inspection and we wanted to get everything working. With sunny and clear skies outside, it seemed like nothing could go wrong. However, this didn’t last for long. Our first issue was that all our equipment - soldering irons, hot air gun and power tools - were rated for 110 V and 60 Hz while the UK operates at 220 V and 50 Hz. Thankfully, we were able to procure a 300 Watt transformer from a nearby electronics store and a 1500 Watt one from Shell. With everything in place, we started getting the car ready for technical inspection. On the electrical side, the headlights and taillights were mounted and wired, and the windshield wiper was connected and tested. On the mechanical side we re-installed the motor, chain and sprockets, secured the aeroshell, and mounted the steering wheel.

Unfortunately, we hit a wall when we couldn’t find the supply and purge valves for the fuel-cell. These are major components and we literally cannot compete without them. We were dismayed to find that they had been left behind in Edmonton accidentally. However, all was not lost since two of our members - Michael Bardwell and yours truly were flying out late from Edmonton. The valves were rushed to Michael before he flew out and we breathed a collective sigh of relief. Everything else looked like it was good to go. With technical inspection closing at 6 pm, we wanted to pass everything apart from the hydrogen tests. We quickly lined up but were too late and the queue was closed. However, we were given spot number 20 and were told that our spot would be held for the next day. With a productive day wrapped up, we tidied up and headed back for some much needed sleep.

One of the fuel-cell valves

One of the fuel-cell valves

About Adnan Arif

A fourth year Chemical Engineering student at the U of A, Adnan is passionate about alternative energy, climate change and computer programming. Between assignments, exams and killing people in GTA, he tries to find time to work on EcoCar's Electrical and PR teams.

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