Schools steer a course with ‘green’ power
The concept of Greenpower Formula 24 (F24) racing began in 1999 when SEEDA (The South East Regional Development Agency) gave 20 schools money to build and race single seat electrically powered cars. This was so successful that the following year it expanded to include more schools and races. Now over 200 schools are involved, 10 heats are held around the UK, and the final takes place at Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit in October.
The award from the Automotive Applications Division
The Board of the Automotive Applications Division (ADD) supports this initiative as a way of engaging schoolchildren in materials and engineering. Almost every year the AAD sponsors part of Greenpower and gives an award at each heat, with a trophy at the final.
Initially the prize was for the lightest car (the vehicles also have to be built to certain safety standards), and then the most innovative use of materials. For the last two years the ADD has focused on high-recycled content, looking for novel applications of recycled materials. The award is judged by a local IOM3 member to encourage different people to become involved.
The cars and teams
The cars have a standard 240W, 24v motor and use two standard 12v batteries. These are supplied by Greenpower so all teams have the same motive power and energy supply. In the four-hour race teams can use two sets of batteries but charging them is not allowed. A team consists of a minimum of five drivers (who each must drive for a minimum of 20 minutes) and mechanics for battery changes, punctures, mechanical repairs, etc.
Originally Greenpower was for secondary schoolchildren (aged 11-16). Such has been its success that the formula has grown to include a ‘Goblin’ class for primary schools, where they purchase a standard kit which they assemble and use whatever bodywork they like. A favourite is the twin walled sheet, usually cadged from an estate agent, or the large crates that apples and oranges are packed in at supermarkets.
The F24+ extends the concept to older participants (16-25-year-olds). It captures their enthusiasm and is successful because companies are realising the value that these projects have for apprentices and their graduate intake. Jaguar Land Rover entered a car and used it as a project for their management trainee programme. Bentley and Prodrive have also entered vehicles in this class.
Other disciplines Greenpower involves
The competition is not just about mechanical engineering – some of the cars have sophisticated electronics to manage their battery power. There is also an award for the Best Presented Team, so the use of textiles comes into play.
We have many letters from schools and pupils about how their view of materials and engineering has changed since becoming involved with Greenpower. Last summer, one school achieved over 160 passes at GCSE level using Greenpower as part of the curriculum in subjects including engineering, materials, textiles and design.
Greenpower are now expanding into other areas and several companies have banded together to build a ‘green’ headquarters with sustainable materials and heat pump energy storage, etc. When the building is finished in 2010 groups of children will be able to visit and carry out ‘sustainable’ type projects.
More support is needed to continue with the Greenpower initiative, so if you are interested, please email me.