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University project inspires interest in wind energy

Staff and students assembling Bristol's wind turbine powered vehicle

Staff and students assembling Bristol's wind turbine powered vehicle

Students testing the wind turbine

Students testing the wind turbine

Press release issued: 7 September 2010

HRH The Prince of Wales will today [Tuesday 7 September] learn about a University of Bristol project to build a wind turbine powered vehicle, which will take part in an international competition later this month.

HRH The Prince of Wales will today [Tuesday 7 September] learn about a University of Bristol project to build a wind turbine powered vehicle, which will take part in an international competition later this month.

A presentation on the project will be given to the Prince as part of the official opening of the Start Living Advice Centre, located in Cabot Circus, Bristol, which is dedicated to encouraging people to use natural resources better.

The novel car, built by students and staff from the University's Faculty of Engineering, is part of the 'Aeolus' wind energy project

Aeolus is a unique international competition for vehicles powered by wind turbines and is aimed at inspiring interest in wind energy both amongst engineers and the wider general public. 

This year marks the University's inaugural entry into the competition and it is the only UK team participating.

The Wind Turbine Vehicle Race will be held later this month at Stauning Airport, Denmark, and will bring together teams from across the globe to race their custom designed vehicles. The competition takes place over three days [24-26 September], with the vehicles racing under a variety of conditions to determine which can make most efficient use of the wind.

The University's project started last year, when a multidisciplinary team of students and academics from across the Faculty of Engineering completed the preliminary design of the vehicle. A range of undergraduate research projects have since been used to optimise specific aspects of the vehicle's design such as the turbines, electrical transmission system and chassis structure.

Approximately 20 undergraduate students from across the Faculty have been involved in the project and they have worked under the guidance of four main academic leads; Dr David Drury (Electrical Engineering), Mr Peter Bunniss (Aerospace Engineering), Professor Stuart Burgess (Mechanical Engineering) and Dr Askin Isikveren (Engineering Design).

Final testing of the vehicle is about to take place at Membury airfield before a team of ten students and staff depart for Denmark on the 23 September.

The Aeolus project is proving to be immensely rewarding for the students involved, giving them the opportunity to work alongside engineers from other disciplines and to gain valuable practical experience.

James Baker, a 4th Year Electrical Engineering student who worked on Aeolus through a final year research project and is one of the team travelling to this year's race, said: "Working with Aeolus has presented the perfect opportunity to expand my knowledge beyond the scope of my degree programme and has provided an ideal means of developing practical skills."

Professor Alan Champneys, Head of Queen's School of Engineering, added "The Aeolus project clearly demonstrates how a novel design and build project can be used as a platform for engaging both students and the wider public with design and research activities linked to renewable energy.

"It also gives the students the chance to gain practical manufacturing experience and the project would not have been possible without the support of our technical staff.  Particular thanks are due to Clive Rendall and Lee Winter who have worked tirelessly over recent months in helping the students prepare the vehicle in time for the race."

This year's vehicle will be used as a platform for developing a more optimised entry in 2011 and it is planned that Aeolus will become a flagship project at Bristol for many years to come.  It has already sparked interest amongst the wider general public, with visits from local school students and exhibits at events such as the Bristol Festival of Nature.


Further information

The project has been undertaken in collaboration with the leading renewable energy consultancy GL Garrad Hassan and it is one of many new initiatives being promoted through the University’s BRITE Futures Institute (BRIstol Technologies for the Environment), a multidisciplinary research hub dedicated to environmental systems and technologies. Complementary activities include the development of a new undergraduate teaching module in wind and marine power, which is jointly taught by University academics and several leading renewable energy companies such as Garrad Hassan, Wind Prospect, Tidal Generation Ltd and RWE npower.

In addition to GL Garrad Hassan, the Bristol Port Company and Boeing UK have also generously sponsored the project. The Aeolus team are also very grateful to Aviation Enterprises Ltd, who have kindly allowed use of their airfield at Membury for vehicle testing.

Any companies that are interested in being a sponsor and supporting the future development of the project should contact Paul Harper, email for further information.

Please contact Joanne Fryer for further information.
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