ProtoTAU is a student-led race team comprised of University of Aberdeen students who design, manufacture and race a hydrogen-powered vehicle for participation in the annual Shell Eco-marathon Europe and Africa. Founded in 2017, ProtoTAU's mission is to promote a clean and sustainable future, and their passion lies in developing hydrogen-powered vehicles that showcase the engineering brilliance of their team and promote the use of clean and sustainable energy sources.
In their first-ever competition in 2019, ProtoTAU's dedication and hard work paid off, and they were awarded the "Most Innovative Hydrogen Fuel Cell Newcomer" award in 2019 and despite facing setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic placed 1st in Scotland and 3rd in the UK for the Shell Virtual Eco-Marathon 2021.
ProtoTAU's journey has been filled with challenges, but they have persevered and continued to work towards their goal of promoting a clean and sustainable future. Through collaboration with their partners, they hope to nurture innovation and inspire future leaders in clean energy. ProtoTAU's dedication to creating a hydrogen-powered vehicle for the Shell Eco-marathon Europe and Africa is a testament to their commitment to sustainability and engineering excellence. Our society is currently mostly made up of engineers and business students, but all STEM disciplines are welcome.
Making the Mould of the car.
ProtoTAU's decision to switch from a steel shell to a glass fibre shell represents a significant upgrade in the design and manufacturing of their hydrogen-powered vehicle. The previous shell of the car was made from steel, which is a strong and durable material but also heavy. In contrast, a glass fibre shell offers many advantages such as being lightweight and customisable to different shapes and sizes.
By using a glass fibre shell, ProtoTAU can improve the overall performance of their hydrogen car, including increased fuel efficiency and better handling due to the reduced weight of the vehicle. Additionally, the glass fibre material can be easily moulded into different shapes and designs, allowing ProtoTAU to create a visually appealing and aerodynamic car.
Overall, the switch to a glass fibre shell represents a significant improvement for ProtoTAU's hydrogen car and demonstrates their commitment to innovation and sustainability in the automotive industry.
The Chassis and Structural team are in charge of designing and manufacturing the vehicle's chassis, the selection of suitable materials for the bulkhead and ensuring that the vehicle is structurally safe. At the moment the team is currently in the middle of working on designing a housing for the fuel cell.
The skills for this team mainly involve CAD modelling using SolidWorks for the vehicle's chassis, simulations to stress test the vehicle, 3D printing and applying everything in the workshop.
The Fuel Cell and Safety team is working towards the development and implementation of an optimised design of the fuel cell system. Testing will be performed on the new fuel cell provided by Ballard.
The focus will be put on fuel, emergency shut down, temperature regulation, purging and potentially a hydrogen recycle system. This will involve designing and building the small-bore tubing system for the fuel cell, as well as designing and building the pressure relief system for the safety aspect of the fuel cell.
The target will be the integration of the design to the vehicle in order to achieve maximal space economy and fuel efficiency.
ProtoTAU's Motor Design and Control team has undertaken a significant project to improve the electronics and electrical design of the control system for the hydrogen car's motor. The project encompasses several components, including the motor control, printed circuit board (PCB), microcontroller, display, sensors, wireless communications, supercapacitor controller, and power management.
The primary objective of the project is to enhance the motor's overall efficiency and performance while ensuring its safety and reliability. The team has been working diligently to manufacture and assemble the components, incorporating the latest technologies and advanced manufacturing techniques to produce high-quality components that meet the design specifications.
The control system's PCB has been developed with precision, incorporating the latest technologies to ensure its durability and reliability. The microcontroller is programmed to manage the control system's various components, ensuring efficient and effective operation.
The display is designed to provide real-time data to the driver, including speed, acceleration, and other critical parameters. The wireless communications system enables the control system to send and receive data wirelessly to the team in real-time, allowing for prompt analysis of the data.
The team has incorporated various sensors to monitor the motor's performance, such as hydrogen leaks, structural integrity, and other critical parameters, ensuring the driver's safety and well-being. The supercapacitor controller and power management system have been integrated into the design to ensure the efficient management of the car's power supply, reducing energy wastage and enhancing the car's overall efficiency.
Overall, the Motor Design and Control team's project is a significant undertaking aimed at enhancing the car's overall performance, safety, and reliability. The team's efforts have resulted in the development of a sophisticated control system that incorporates advanced technologies and manufacturing techniques to produce high-quality components that meet the design specifications.
The Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG) hosted its first Energy Futures Conference and Exhibition on November 15, 2022. The event brought together industry stakeholders to discuss the latest technology developments and the fast pace of change required to reach net zero. ProtoTAU, a participant from the University of Aberdeen, attended the conference to gain industry insights and network with professionals.
The conference featured speaker and panel sessions, networking opportunities, and dedicated exhibition spaces. The event showcased North of Scotland capabilities and ambitions on a broad range of topics including primary energy production, education, supply chain and skills, and future marine renewables. The focus of the conference was to underline the need to decarbonize energy systems and scale up renewable energy production. ProtoTAU found the event to be informative and inspiring.
The industry professionals shared valuable advice and expertise, which would help ProtoTAU in its future endeavors. The networking opportunities allowed ProtoTAU to represent the society and the University of Aberdeen while building connections within the industry.
Overall, the Energy Futures Conference and Exhibition provided a platform for ProtoTAU and other participants to gain a deeper understanding of the renewable energy sector and its future prospects. The event served as an excellent opportunity to learn from industry leaders and connect with professionals in the field.
ProtoTAU visited H2 Aberdeen's hydrogen refuelling centre in Cove Aberdeen. The team received a warm welcome and was given a guided tour of the facility, where they learned about the technical aspects behind the H2 project and gained valuable insights into the hydrogen-fuelling infrastructure in Aberdeen.
During the visit, ProtoTAU had the opportunity to see first-hand how H2 Aberdeen is making strides in advancing hydrogen technology and promoting it as a clean energy source. The team was impressed by the passion and commitment of the H2 Aberdeen team towards creating a sustainable future.
ProtoTAU also developed a deeper understanding of the potential of hydrogen as a clean energy source and its role in reducing carbon emissions. The visit served as an eye-opener for the team, inspiring them to work towards a sustainable future.
The visit was an enriching experience for ProtoTAU, and they expressed their gratitude to H2 Aberdeen for their hospitality and willingness to share their knowledge and expertise. ProtoTAU looks forward to continued collaboration with H2 Aberdeen in the future to advance their knowledge in the field of clean energy.