updated: 4/29/2011 9:35:50 AM
Nevada-based Altairnano Inc. (Nasdaq: ALTI), which has a manufacturing operation in Anderson, is helping power an IUPUI student-built go-kart in the Second-Annual Purdue evGrandPrix Saturday. The company is providing five advanced lithium-ion battery modules to the IUPUI Energy Club. Team member Jason Cambridge believes the kart will be the only one powered by nanotechnology.
April 29, 2011
ANDERSON, Ind. – On Saturday, April 30, Altairnano (Nasdaq: ALTI) – an advanced energy storage solutions provider in Anderson, Ind. – will steward the energy innovators of tomorrow in the second-annual Purdue evGrandPrix. A collaboration of the Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Energy Club, Lugar Center for Renewable Energy and Purdue School of Engineering and Technology, this collegiate all-electric go-kart race challenges students to develop leading-edge technologies and inspires careers in electric vehicles – all while fostering the competitive environment of racing.
In mid-April, Altairnano provided five advanced lithium-ion 24V 50Ah battery modules with an onboard battery management system to power the kart designed by the IUPUI Energy Club, a student organization focused on developing new technologies and careers to support America’s energy security.
However, the relationship did not end at the close of the lease agreement. Altairnano engineers – some former IUPUI students themselves – continued to mentor the eight-student team, which included mechanical lead Josh Keith, a Master’s degree student from Versailles, Ind.
“Altairnano and its employees have gone above and beyond in providing support and are easily accessible to all of us, allowing us to ask questions directly and build those vital networking skills that will serve us once we begin their careers in engineering,” Keith said.
Another central Indiana technology company, IDI, also supported the Energy Club kart team, creating a custom application to solve a real-world energy problem that emerged during the vehicle’s development.
“In my view, our largest obstacle was making the batteries communicate with the controller,” Keith explained. “However, IDI worked to create the proper software to allow our setup to perform.”
The eight-student team labored a combined 600 to 700 hours on the project since its kick-off in January 2011. The early days were spent designing, fundraising, planning and patiently waiting for larger mechanical parts to arrive. However, as the competition approached, work intensified. In the final weeks leading up to the race, the team put in numerous 16-hour days to complete fabrication of the original vehicle.
Although the project has not been without its challenges, team member Jason Cambridge, a sophomore from Greenwood, Ind. studying mechanical engineering, feels Altairnano’s battery technology provides their vehicle a significant advantage over the other collegiate designs.
“To our knowledge, we’ll be the only kart powered by nanotechnology,” he explained.
Andy Keith, an electrical engineering student from Batesville, Ind., agrees that the IUPUI Energy Club’s project has lived up to its innovation potential due in large part to Altairnano.
“I knew we needed batteries that were lightweight and had a good energy capacity. Lead acid and gel cell batteries were immediately ruled out because they are too heavy to stay within the kart spec weight of 650 lbs. with the driver, so that left us with lithium batteries,” Keith shared. “Our power train uses an AC motor with Curtis controller that, aside from the reliability aspects, will allow us to do full regenerative braking. Altairnano’s batteries are perfect for a regenerative braking application because of their unique charge/discharge capabilities. The batteries essentially act like a super-capacitor. 50 Amp/hour batteries that can charge in 10 minutes are pretty amazing.”
Also instrumental to the team’s success is the support of the faculty and staff of the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology.
“ThisevGrandPrix has been a collective effort – we’ve had the help of professors from several different departments. Everyone’s really been vested in making this kart a reality, sharing their time and expertise and keeping team morale high when we faced challenges,” shared Daric Fitzwater, a mechanical engineering major from Shelbyville, Ind.
The Energy Club’s design will be put to the test during Saturday’s Purdue evGrandPrix – the winner of the event is the team that best displays kart design, race placement and optimal efficiency during 100 laps of racing.
On May 7, advancing evGrandPrix kart teams will take center stage at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during Emerging Tech Day, part of the Indy 500's 100th Anniversary event series. Qualification runs and Sprint Kart races will engage college teams from across the nation incompetition for $20,000 in scholarships.
For more information about the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI, visit www.engr.iupui.edu.
To learn more about Altairnano’s advanced energy storage solutions, visit www.altairnano.com.
About Altairnano, Inc.
Headquartered in Reno, Nev. with offices and manufacturing in Anderson, Ind., Altairnano is a leading provider of energy storage systems for clean, efficient power and energy management. Altairnano's lithium-titanate based battery systems are among the highest performing and most scalable, with applications that include complete energy storage systems for use in providing frequency regulation and renewables integration for the electric grid, and battery modules and cells for transportation and industrial applications.
About IUPUI Energy Club
The mission of the IUPUI Energy Club is to educate and expose students on the campus of IUPUI and the surrounding community to research, education and career opportunities available within the emerging energy sector; and to organize and provide collaborative opportunities for students and faculty to engage in research projects and demonstrations related to new energy technologies for the benefit of IUPUI and the Indianapolis community.