Ireland’s Most Energy-Efficient Car Launched at NUI Galway

Members of the Geec 2.0 team (back row, l-r): Keith Ward, Radko Vykukal, Parnell Watters, Julie O’Connor, Barry Flannery, Sorcha Tarpey and Shane Queenan. Front row (l-r) Niamh Keogh and Laura Drury.
Jun 28 2016 Posted: 09:05 IST

The latest incarnation of Ireland’s most energy-efficient car, the Geec (Galway energy-efficient car), was recently launched at NUI Galway by Dr Jim Browne, the University’s President, and Dr John Conroy, Head of Regulatory Affairs at Shell E&P Ireland. The Geec and its team of NUI Galway students travelled to London at the weekend to compete in the prestigious 2016 Shell Eco-marathon (SEM) Europe, which takes place 30 June to 3 July.

The Geec, which has been designed, built, driven and tested entirely by NUI Galway students, became the first-ever Irish entry to the Europe-wide event in 2015. The car finished 23rd out of 51 teams in the battery electric prototype category, with an efficiency score of 287 kilometres per kilowatt-hour, equivalent to 8,000 miles per gallon. Driving the 2015 Geec from Galway to Dublin would use just 13 cents worth of electricity.

The Geec 2.0 aims to improve on this performance through an aggressive campaign of vehicle weight reduction, aerodynamic improvements, electric drive optimisation, data gathering and analysis, and driver training. As part of this effort, the Geec 2.0 teamed up recently with Mondello Park International Racing Circuit, the home of motor racing in Ireland, to put the car’s electrical, electronic and mechanical systems, as well as its drivers, through their paces before travelling to London.

The team behind the Geec comprises 19 undergraduate students from NUI Galway’s disciplines of Energy Systems Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Commerce. The students have responsibilities for all aspects crucial for the success of the Geec; the chassis, braking and steering systems, the electromechanical drive-train, the power electronics control system, the data acquisition system, the aerodynamic shell, and marketing and communications. Assisting and advising the students are two postgraduate advisors and three academic mentors from across NUI Galway’s engineering disciplines.

The mission of the Geec is not only to place highly on the leader board at SEM Europe, but also to show what young engineers at Irish universities are capable of when faced with a major interdisciplinary challenge. Work on the Geec has been incorporated into engineering project work at NUI Galway. The students’ work also illustrates the roles engineers can play to tackle some of the biggest problems currently facing Ireland and the world, such as climate change, the need to find alternatives to fossil fuels, and sustainable transportation. Nearly 40% of energy use in Ireland is for transportation, with 97% of this figure delivered by imported oil products. The widespread use of fossil fuels in transportation is responsible for the release of about one quarter of Ireland’s climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions from transportation are second only to those of agriculture.

Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, said: “It is wonderful to see the strides that the Geec has made in the last year since becoming the first ever entry from an Irish university to compete at the Shell Eco-marathon. This illustrates the creativity, dedication and initiative of our young engineers when they are given the right guidance, education and access to world-class engineering facilities.”

Sorcha Tarpey, a fourth year Energy Systems Engineering student and one of the Geec team leaders, said: “Working on the Geec at NUI Galway has given the team members invaluable insight into real-life engineering, where diverse teams have to work together to deliver solutions to complex problems in time and on budget. It has been an incredible learning experience and we can’t wait to put our theory into practice in London!”

Ronan Deasy, Managing Director at Shell Ireland said: “Shell Ireland is delighted to partner with NUI Galway on the enhanced GEEC. The team have worked incredibly hard and have made vast strides in the performance of this year’s model. We are very proud to partner with such ingenuity and tenacity. We wish them all the best for the event in London and look forward to hearing of their success.”

Dr Rory Monaghan, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at NUI Galway and one of the Academic Mentors for the Geec, said: “At NUI Galway, we believe that having a high-profile flagship project like the Geec gives us a real edge in attracting top students from around the country to study engineering. Working on the Geec encompasses all aspects of engineering, which is a truly creative profession, from concept design, detailed analysis and mathematical modelling, all the way to component manufacturing and assembly, vehicle testing and team marketing. We believe the Geec produces truly rounded engineers who are able to take on any challenge thrown at them.” 


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