September 13, 2011
School of Engineering, Coimbatore
… and mark your calendars. October 28-30, India’s Formula One drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok will be speeding down the racetrack in the nation’s first ever F1 Grand Prix.
To reach the finish line in record time, racecar drivers need the support of engineering geniuses.
The technology behind their success starts with Amrita students like Santosh Dharmarajan and R. Karthik who recently proposed an innovative design to improve racecar performance.
With the guidance of Mahadevan Lakshmanan, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering at Coimbatore, these third-year B.Tech. students proposed replacing heavy flywheels in racing cars with lighter ones made from composite material.
A wheel, usually made from metal, a flywheel is an energy storing device.
“Our design will contribute to reducing the weight of race cars, thereby improving their performance,” stated Lakshmanan.
The students’ originality paid off when the team received Rs. 90,000 in funding support from the Institution of Engineers (India) to further work on the project.
“Our main aim is to design and fabricate flywheels made from different composite materials such as glass-epoxy and carbon-epoxy composites,” the students informed.
The team will test the fabricated flywheels and compare the performance with that of metal flywheels. A mathematical model will be developed from the experimental results.
The students know that energy storage characteristics of the flywheel are predominantly influenced by maximum rotational velocity rather than mass. Increasing the rational velocity of the flywheel increases the centrifugal force exerted on it. Therefore, the strength of the material used plays a vital role.
“One is supposed to operate flywheels at the highest possible speeds within the constraints imposed by the material of the flywheel,” the students elaborated.
Material strength of composite flywheels is expected to be much better than that of metallic ones.
Whether India’s Formula One drivers win at the F1 Grand Prix or not, Amrita students have already come out victorious. We congratulate them and wish them all the best!