A student-built hybrid race car showing one route to a greener future has won the endorsement of MPs after going on display at the Houses of Parliament.
Parliamentarians dropped by Old Palace Yard to see for themselves the fuel efficient car that Oxford Brookes motorsports students are designing to compete in this year’s Formula Student competition.
Brookes students have been the Top UK university team at Formula Student competitions more times than any other over the past 10 years and was the only university to bring a working hybrid to the starting grid in 2008.
The new hybrid students are working on for July has a much smaller engine compared with a conventional race car and is assisted by an electric motor.
Secretary of State for the Environment, Hilary Benn, was among the MPs to stop by and find out more about the engineering design skills involved.
Hybrid cars are part of the future in terms of trying to get more out of less and trying to reduce emissions. I've been really impressed with the keenness of the students and the efforts they’re making…
In the fight against climate change we’re going to need all the help we can get from changing behaviour, from using materials and fuel much more efficiently than we've done in the past and science will be a really important part of this…these young people are helping to build the future and let's hope this car is part of it.
Phil Willis, Chairman of the House of Commons Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee added:
It's excellent to see undergraduate and postgraduate students working alongside each other with academics to produce very exciting work.
There's solid thinking here about the environment and bringing regenerative energy into automobile design and engineering…the students are all familiar with the latest technologies and are actively researching how to make the very best use of them.
Oxford Brookes has a world leading reputation in this area and it’s great to see it in action at the House of Commons.
Silverstone falls within Tim Boswell MPs constituency. He commented:
There are some brilliant designs with a good emphasis on energy and green issues.
Hybrid power systems will be coming to Formula One in 2009 but Brookes students were a year ahead with a running hybrid racing car at Silverstone in 2008 as part of the Formula Student competition.
22-year-old Koen Sannen is studying for a master's in motorsports. He said:
It's the future because we’re running out of fossil fuels…Motorsports has always been the top of automotive engineering so it's really important that it takes the step to alternative fuels and energies and as a Formula Student team we need to be at the forefront of the latest technologies.
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Formula Student develops the talents of the next generation of engineers by using the competitive appeal of motorsport. The new Formula Student category 1A was introduced for low-carbon vehicles using alternative drive systems last year.
There were just three entries, all British; a hydrogen-powered machine from the University of Hertfordshire, a biofuel car from Coventry and the hybrid from Oxford Brookes.