University engineers road-test prototype

The wind-powered vehicle being put to the test at Shoreham Port, in the shadow of the wind turbines
The wind-powered vehicle being put to the test at Shoreham Port, in the shadow of the wind turbines

A wind-powered vehicle developed by degree students at Sussex University has been road-tested at Shoreham Port.

The group of mechanical engineering students, called Sussex Power Storm, made a prototype as part of their degree studies and completed some basic functional testing before they experimented with the eco-friendly vehicle on land at Shoreham Port.

They were given access by the authority to the revetment road on the Outer Layby, just east of the harbour entrance, as they needed a location that was flat, safe and in clear wind for the proving runs.

The day of the tests provided a steady westerly breeze and no rain, perfect conditions for the runs.

The team was able to do trials in relative privacy, running up and down the road in the shadow of the port’s wind turbines, Spinny and Gusty, with only the occasional member of the public observing their experiments.

Tony Young, chief engineer for Sussex Power Storm, said: “The team and I had a great time testing the car at the port. Wind conditions were perfect and the vehicle looked right at home in front of the two giant wind turbines.

“The testing gave us some really useful information – the car did not travel purely under wind power, however it travelled further than it has before.

“Our conclusion from the day is that the gearing on the current vehicle is not right.”

The students are returning to the workshop to build an improved prototype, after some careful thought about speed, weight and materials.

Tony added: “Our new designs incorporate a gear box, lighter weight chassis and new body, all of which will make us contenders in the upcoming race.

“We look forward to coming back to Shoreham Port and testing out our new designs soon.”

Shoreham Port said it is enthusiastic about developments and innovation within the green energy sector and aims to support them as much as possible, as it is has eco-port status.

Brian Rousell, deputy director of engineering, said: “It was great to see such an enthusiastic group of young engineers meeting the challenges of providing environmentally-friendly transport solutions here at the port.

“We try to minimise the impact of our own activities on the environment on a constant basis and love working with the designers of the future where we can to keep ideas fresh.”