With their design efforts powered by a range of software, a student team from Ohio State University broke the world land-speed record for electric vehicles in October 2004 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Their car, dubbed the Buckeye Bullet, topped out at 314 mph. "Our one-way recorded speed was 321 mph, faster than the French TGV train the last time they recorded it," says Isaac Harper, a third-year mechanical engineering student at the school.
The Ohio State team, which included about about 30 students over the life of the project, did all their CAD work in SolidWorks, and their finite element analysis in COSMOSXpress. They also used Fluent for CFD analysis, HyperMesh for preprocessing, MSC.ADAMS, and MATLAB Simulink.
Key to the design was the electric motor, developed by Shoemaker Industrial Solutions specifically for the project. The 500-hp motor weighed between 300 and 400 lbs, and was 15.5 inches in diameter and 18 inches long. A custom copper rotor added about 20 percent more efficiency to the motor. The Ohio State team worked with Shoemaker engineers in the design.
Additionally, Harper says, the packaging of the batteries, inverter, suspension, and drive-line were critical. After test runs with a previous version of the design, the student team moved the center of gravity of the 24-inch car rearward to provide added stability at high speed. They also managed to cut weight by changing the batteries they were using. Harper says they can't discuss the specifics of the new battery design. But he adds that originally, the team had used 10,000 C-cell batteries.
Cooling was an enemy of the design, Harper says. "We tried to cool the car with ducts on the side, but that didn't work, so we went to brute force, blowing air straight down from the top with air conditioning fans."
Key features of SolidWorks that helped the student team: the assembly features that enabled them to mate components, and the software's ease of use.
"We could come up with a fast component design in SolidWorks in less than an
hour, and test it in 2 or 3 min with COSMOS," Harper says.
Charged Up: Shoemaker Industrial
Solutions in Columbus, OH provided the electric motor the Ohio State
students used in the Buckeye Bullet. The students worked with Shoemaker
engineers on the motor design.