Not long after a team of Irish-based students walked away with an innovation prize at the SpaceX Hyperloop competition in California, another Irish team has come up tops in Europe.

At the Shell Eco-marathon Europe event, a team of engineering students from NUI Galway was named the winner of the Technical Innovation Award for its Galway energy-efficient car (Geec).

The car has been in development for a few years now, with each new year bringing an updated and significantly more efficient model.

No longer a major drag
With Ireland’s large-scale car production now a distant memory, the Geec can take the claim as Ireland’s most efficient electric vehicle (EV), capable of travelling more than 350km on a single charge.
To put this into perspective, this means the car could travel from Galway to Dublin for less than 15c worth of electricity, or the equivalent of more than 16,000km per gallon.

With the addition of a new aerodynamic seal, the Geec’s undercarriage drag was reduced by as much as 27pc.
Typically, 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.

This year, 149 engineering schools and universities in Europe developed and built cars for the Shell competition, with more than 2,000 students taking part.

‘This result puts us firmly on the map’
Now in its fourth year of entering, the Geec has improved considerably each year in the rankings, from finishing in 23rd place in 2015, to 13th in 2017.

Prof 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.”

The team itself consists of around 25 mechanical engineering and electronic engineering students, with some additional involvement from other engineering and informatics students.

Also congratulating them was NUI Galway’s president, Prof Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, who 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.”

Colm Gorey
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