A team of Motorsport MSc students from Cranfield University has been awarded second place in an international automotive battery design competition. The five students secured one of the top spots and a prize of €3000 by creating a new battery design for an autonomous electric car using innovative cooling methods. 

Nicolas Valencia, Carlos Geli, Caique Sanches, Marcel de Melo Gomes and Ariel Sapollnik were already friends but, as some students left campus to study from home due to COVID-19, they opted to move into shared accommodation together to form their own social bubble. Their combined skills that studying at Cranfield had helped develop were ideal for this challenge. Naming their team Tantum-5, they decided to collaborate and submit an entry. Along with their MSc studies, working late into the night, Tantum-5 met the two-week project deadline. 

Rimac Automobili’s competition was to develop a detailed concept of a battery pack for an autonomous electric vehicle, with constraints such as range, weight and passenger volume to consider. It had to have an innovative cooling system and detailed CAD designs, and the submission had to include a poster and a supporting report.  

Nicolas, age 24, from Colombia, worked on the cooling system. Many electric vehicles use a liquid cooling system so the team opted for a different mechanism, using phase change materials and a device called heat pipes. 

“It was a very intense two weeks as we were all also studying and working on our thesis projects,” said Nicolas, who is studying for the Advanced Motorsport Engineering MSc. “Managing our time was a big challenge but it was a fantastic experience and we were delighted to come second.” 

Having been shortlisted, the Cranfield team then went on to undertake a video presentation and take questions from a panel of five judges.  

All of the team hope to go on to secure careers in the motorsport and high performance engineering sector, with Nicolas praising Cranfield’s specialist course: “Motorsport is a very fast-paced industry and the way the Cranfield course is designed helps us to learn how to work in relation to the demands of the sector.” 

Clive Temple, Programme Director for Motorsport and Automotive at Cranfield University, said: “Our motorsport courses are all very closely linked to industry so that students can learn from the latest developments in high performance engineering. It’s wonderful to see this group so proactively applying their new skills and knowledge to such an exciting challenge. Congratulations to all the Tantum-5 team for this amazing achievement, one which will no doubt enhance their career prospects.” 

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.