Chalmers takes the chequered flag

Young engineers from Gothenburg’s Chalmers University of Technology – proudly partnered by Nord-Lock – have won the world’s largest student engineering competition.

After ten months of designing, building, testing and competing, a team from Chalmers took the chequered flag in the Formula Student competition held at the UK’s Silverstone Circuit.

“Winning this competition is a really big deal for Chalmers and an awesome feeling for the students involved,” says Chad Thomas, Technical Chassis Team member, who is studying for a Masters at the university. “The team really poured their lives into the car.”

The Chalmers car, secured with dozens of Nord-Lock washers at crucial bolted joints, beat 102 other single-seaters in the Class One classification of July’s competition. The car was entirely built by the students, with the only exceptions being the highly complex components such as the engine electronic control units.

“Formula Student is an excellent educational tool which helps deliver the engineers of tomorrow; learning by acquiring the skills we as teachers cannot teach in a classroom situation,” says Jonathan Rice, project leader.

“We carried out a pre-study for two weeks, followed by an eight week design phase,” says Prashanth Sekhar, Communication Team member, who is also taking a Masters at Chalmers. “The manufacturing phase lasted for twelve to fourteen weeks, followed by ten to twelve weeks of testing before the actual competition itself.”

The same Chalmers team also placed third in the Formula Student German competition in August, meaning the university is now ranked 10th out of some 500 teams worldwide.

Nord-Lock’s partnership with the Chalmers team is now in its second year. Race rules state that it must be possible to visually inspect bolt locking solutions. Thus, the team was obliged – unnecessarily, from a technical point of view – to also use nylon insert lock nuts.

“We used the Nord-Lock washers to maintain pre-tension on the bolts,” says Thomas. “We found that when we lost pre-tension, the hand­ling suffered and the car became really sloppy to drive. Maintaining pre-tension also allowed us to design for constant pre-tension, instead of for shear loads.”
So what is the opinion of these aspiring engineers regarding the Nord-Lock solution? “Really awesome,” says Thomas. “In 1,000 km of testing we never had a single issue with bolts backing off.”

FACTS: Chalmers’ single-seat racecar
Engine: 90 hp Yamaha four-cylinder, 600 cc
Acceleration: 0 to 100km/h in 3.5 seconds
Wheelbase: 1,250 mm

 

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