Welcome to our first blog post for Brunel Racing's progress in the design and manufacture of our new EV - BRe-4B.
Over the last 28 weeks, we have overcome many obstacles and achieved an awful lot for this time of year.
Our year started at freshers fair in September 2022 - engaging with fresh faced students and discussing the targets for the year.
Our first target was to ensure we had a good intake of keen and enthusiastic students, holding a team meeting in the workshop to introduce them to our facilities and management team. We subsequently got students involved in cleaning and assembling our Energus 18650 cylindrical batteries for the start of a new accumulator design.
We also set about reaching out to existing and new sponsors, one of which included Plyable who supplied us with high density pattern block, which we used to produce tunnel moulds for our undertray - with massive thanks to Brunel Design School technician James Stephen.
The largest limiting factor in producing a Formula Student car is time - especially when the team is operating in 1 year cycles (whereby the car is designed and manufactured in the space of a single year). Therefore, the biggest objective of the year has been to order the chassis as soon as possible for a rolling chassis by Christmas. With a big push at the very start of term, the chassis was ordered by the start of October and arrived from VR3 in Canada the same week we attended Learn to Win, an event held by the IMechE for teams to chat with scrutineers and judges at Formula Student.
This was a great experience for the team - having prepared a drawing pack of the car, we obtained feedback from the scrutineers and felt confident about the concept we had produced.
By Christmas, we had pushed to fully weld the chassis and produce suspension, aero, drivetrain and powertrain parts, but just fell short of producing a rolling chassis by the Christmas break. Though this was disappointing, we had achieved so much very early in the season.
Christmas was an extremely well deserved break and we returned well energised to continue bringing parts to the car to get it rolling. In early January, a small group from the team attended the Autosport Engineering trade show, chatting with fellow FS teams, employers and prospective sponsors and existing suppliers.
Meanwhile, our electrical team have been pushing hard on the motor test bench (recycled from our Isle of Man TT bike rig) - connecting our HV batteries to the inverter and motor, testing the batteries under load and the characteristics of the motor when spinning and braking. This is a fantastic achievement for the team - massive kudos to our electrical manager, Alex McKeon.
Slowly, suspension, drivetrain and steering parts came together and by the start of March, the chassis is on its wheels and rolling.
We have also had steady but positive progress on our aero package, with patterns being shaped by hand in-house. With help from our design technician (again, thanks to James Stephen), our freshers have contributed a lot of work on the hand-shaping and finishing of our nosecone pattern - made from low density block sandwiched between MDF laser cut boards, beneath a layer of filler and primer. These patterns will then be used to produce split moulds for laminating our front bodywork.
We are also extremely excited to be moving to incorporating sustainable composites into the car, using Bcomp flax fibre and their innovative powerRibs structure to make our bodywork and undertray. Recently, we manufactured a test piece to practice the process, which involves dry lamination of the flax and powerRib plies followed by resin infusion and a 35 hour cure time. We have learnt a lot from this process and know what to improve for our next bodywork components.
With 13 weeks to go until our first competition in Switzerland, we still have a tremendous amount of work to do to get the car running and competitive. Our small team have been on a very steep learning curve, but we are super optimistic we can get the car running and are extremely excited for a competitive season of racing.
We will continue to post weekly and focus on each project being undertaken by our team - any questions feel free to get in touch!
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