07 April 2011

Car racing in a sustainable world

Michael Manning talks about the use of green technology in motorsport.

Michael Manning talks about the use of green technology in motorsport.

Professor George Cairns, Michael Manning, Geoff Pearson and Thomas Rogers.

Professor George Cairns, Michael Manning, Geoff Pearson and Thomas Rogers.

More than 100 students took part in a forum at RMIT University recently about the latest trends in car racing technology.

Geoff Pearson from the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering kicked off the discussion by talking about the Formula Hydrogen racing car project, a collaborative exercise between RMIT and the University of Applied Sciences, Ingolstadt, Germany.

Mr Pearson is leading the RMIT team in the Formula H project, which was designed to produce a demonstration vehicle using cutting-edge sustainable automotive technologies.

The racing car has been showcased at several European automotive industry expos including the 2010 IAA international motor show in Frankfurt.

The second presentation was from Michael Manning, who works on racing cars as a control engineer.

He takes care of control and electronics in relation to the gearbox and clutch and it is his responsibility to ensure that the cars run reliably and perform well.

Mr Manning discussed the efficiency of hydrogen and the adoption of green technology in motorsport.

“Although there is a push towards green technology at the moment there are still strict regulations which limit our options,” he said.

“Personally I think it is a very interesting issue and I love the fact that it challenges us to innovate and adapt the way we do things; however, we also have to consider the business impacts.”

Mr Manning also highlighted the importance of building relationships between engineers and universities.

“Working with universities on research and development is crucial because that is where our future employees are coming from,” he said.

Following the presentations, Professor George Cairns, Head of the School of Management, moderated a conversation around sustainability issues in car racing.

Professor Cairns’ research paper, “Personal reflections on attending the Australian Grand Prix”, formed the basis of the discussion.

The paper reflects on Professor Cairns’ experience of attending the race and examines the environmental impacts of motorsport.

It explores both the direct impacts, in relation to the racing cars’ energy consumption and emissions, and the indirect impacts, with regard to spectator, sponsor and support show contributions to carbon emissions.

The event was hosted by the Centre for Sustainable Organisations and Work and the Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Automotive Technologies.

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