Washington (ISJ) ? An electric car built by Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah (USA) set a world land speed record of 204.9 mph or about 330 kph during qualifying runs this month. The car is an improved version of Electric Blue, designed by more than 130 BYU students over the last one decade. The older version holds a record of 155.8 mph or 250 kph.
"When we set the record three years ago we felt like we left a lot on the table," said BYU student and team captain, Kelly Hales. "On paper we thought we could get 200 mph but we never had the conditions just right?until now."
The car notched the record in the presence of approximately 180 teams and their cars at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Jim Burkdoll, president of the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association, drove the car to set the record, which was certified by the Southern California Timing Association.
Electric Blue is called a streamliner because it has a long, slender shape and enclosed wheels that reduce air resistance. BYU?s car is in the E1 category, which means it is electric and weighs less than 1,100 pounds. Other streamliners, notably one built by Ohio State University students, have achieved higher speeds but was much heavier vehicles requiring different weight classes.
BYU students custom-built the lightweight carbon fiber body of Electric Blue over a six-year period, with the help of computer programs that model wind tunnels. Aerodynamic performance and lithium iron phosphate batteries helped the car reach its high speeds over the last four years of runs.
"We were going to retire the car last year when head faculty advisor, Perry Carter, left for an LDS mission, but we petitioned for one more year," Hales said. "Now the car will officially retire with a record we think will be unbeatable for a while.
About half the students who have worked on the streamliner program over the years have been manufacturing engineering technology majors, about 40 percent mechanical engineering majors, and the rest from various other disciplines, including electrical engineering. Many worked on the car as unpaid volunteers.
Image courtesy: BYU