The big release of The Forze VIII

I am convinced that we can say that these last months have been the craziest months of our year thus far. Each and every member of the team has given their all, and we have seen what an incredible result we could deliver as a team. It was hard work but in the end it was all worth it, especially with the release of our new car: The Forze VIII at the Nürburgring!

The event was covered by several major media outlets and was attended by the enthusiastic Nürburgring crowd. Camera crews, fans, and the team surrounded the car during the reveal ceremony. Here is some insight into the work that went into this landmark day!

The production

Not everything was pomp and circumstance when it came to preparations for the the release day… To have the car ready by the 12th of May would already put us far ahead of our productions schedule, but the potential exposure we would gain from having the car ready for the Nürburgring display would be worth the extra effort. The main obstacle was the bodywork, as each panel required many man hours of sanding, smoothing, filling and re sanding, with members from every division of the team pitching in to help out. There was no shortcut, the work needed to be done. In true team spirit, even the acquisition manager and team manager got their hands dirty laminating and sanding the body panels!

As the saying goes “too many cooks spoil the soup” and having more than 20 people working on the car simultaneously was not very efficient. There simply was not enough space on the vehicle to give everyone their own room to operate and get their task done. Because of this, a week before the reveal, we decided to do night shifts to make the deadline. The manpower was distributed and our work output was improved. Although this was a drastic measure, it paid off thanks to the effort of the team, and we made the deadline. On Wednesday we worked for 24 hours straight finalizing the car and wrapping it in its new livery. The moment the car was wrapped, it was loaded into its trailer and sent to Germany.

The Reveal  

The team could not have hoped for a better reveal. To have Forze’s flagship car displayed at a track with such a prominent racing history, as the Nürburgring, was an honor. Also, to have the Forze VIII, a car whose chassis has roots in LMP-class racing present at a major 24 Hr race was a pleasant coincidence. The car received a of attention, from the press but also from the public.  Our hydrogen racer now looks fast in its new body work and bright pink wrap. To get a view of the car at the Nürburgring, see our time-lapse of the display below!

 

New main sponsor

But why the colour pink? Pink is not exactly the most obvious choice for a race car… Considering our new main sponsor, however, the choice becomes more clear. BWT (Best Water Technology) will be joining us this year as head sponsor, and we are excited for the new opportunities this opens for us!

24h Nürburgring 2018 – Foto: Gruppe C Photography

After more than two years of successful collaboration with PitPoint clean fuels as main sponsor, it is time for the team to grow further, which will be enabled by partnering with BWT. PitPoint will remain closely involved with the team as sponsor to support this growth further. We would like to extend our thanks to the Pitpoint team which has helped us immensely to get this far. Without them this technological adventure would not be possible.

Coming Months

Now that the bodywork is done we can almost begin testing. Next week we are doing the first dyno tests, which means that track testing is just around the corner! The first track day is scheduled for June 11th, so stay tuned to our social media channels for updates and more information. Seeing the FORZE VIII set down its first laps will be an emotional moment for all, the confirmation that countless days and nights have begun to pay off!

Next Generation Forze – Long Days and Short Nights

Last month’s disassembly of the car was an exciting experience. Now that the car is disassembled, the upgrades can begin! Projects we have been working on the whole year now come to a realisation and are being manufactured. Read on to find out about the big improvements we are implementing in the coming weeks and other things that have kept us busy this past month!

Start production of molds at Jules Dock

The biggest and most noteworthy improvement to our car will be the completely redesigned bodywork. The new bodywork consists of 9 different molds which are going to be produced at Jules Dock shaping. For our CAD-guys, this meant many long days and short nights.

The molds will be brought to Airborne to begin the layering of the carbon fiber shell. This labor intensive process will be quite a challenge to complete in the limited timeframe, but will greatly improve the performance. The team is excited to see the new bodywork on the car and is motivated to begin with this process!

Wiring harness production 

The past month, a lot of manpower was put into the new wiring harness of the next generation Forze car. Seven team members from many different departments (including management) spent 2 weeks designing the complete wiring harness in CAD. This was done in order to get highly accurate dimensions and to give our successors a head start in developing a wiring harness for subsequent iterations of Forze racers in the future.

When our designs were finished in 3D, they were flattened and printed on paper. On these 2D designs wires were laid, creating bundles of various lengths and thicknesses. In fact, over 300 meters of wire was used in the complete harness! Currently, the last connectors are being attached, after which the harness can be installed in the Forze flagship car.

Show Forze to the outside world 

We have been to some interesting events last month. In early March, the team visited the Symposium of Rotterdam The Hague innovation airport as guests with our hydrogen demo model. For a varied public we explained hydrogen technology and gained new insights on how hydrogen can be used in the aerospace sector.

Also, the team attended the green future event at the Hovenpassage in Delft. The Forze VI was put on display inside the shopping mall in order to inspire passersby to think about a sustainable hydrogen powered future.

Recruiting the best engineers for next year

This month was also the beginning for the recruitment of the next full-time team, as after the Gamma Racing Days team XI will hand over all its responsibilities to the new full-time members.Our interest drinks, in which the garage is opened to potential new team members for drinks and a chat with the team’s engineers, were extremely popular this year. The coming weeks will be busy with interviews and selection of new team members!

Next generation almost there!

 

 And finally: the best for last. An announcement that the Team is very excited about:

The next generation of Forze’s zero-emission hydrogen racers will be called: “Forze 8”

Check out the teaser video of the Forze 8 (tip: turn your sound on)

Next Generation Forze – Entering the Production Phase

What’s next?

The departments are finalising most of their new designs. This enables us to reach the next important phase in our year: production and assembly. The newly improved subframe plays a key role in this process: since the current frame has to be taken off the car to be altered, all components have to be taken out as well. A massive operation indeed. New parts need to be developed and fully new body work will be produced. 

> Scroll down for footage

PRODUCTION PHASE 

The rear part of the subframe, called the bulk head, will be modified to suit the new packaging concept, aero package and rear suspension. The current bulk head will be sawed off the frame, and a new one will be welded onto it. This can obviously not be done while the frame is on the car. And since most components are mounted on the frame, it will be a big task getting the frame out.

We will start by disconnecting all cables and tubing running through the car. This means all cooling fluids have to be drained (and stored) first. We will then take out all pumps, compressors, nodes, fuel cell components, controllers and many more, and finally the fuel cell itself. This has to happen very neatly and securely, as most components will go back in as soon as the frame is done.

The frame will take a few weeks to be produced, and then the reassembling can begin. During this time, lots of new components will be produced. These involve a new low voltage power system, cable tree, low side junction box, humidifier, water separator as well as a whole new rear suspension. The first tests will be conducted in the workshop, but we plan to move to dyno testing soon after.

The most labour intensive project is then yet to be finished. The entire new bodywork will enter production within several weeks, and will take up until the end of April to be finished completely. This week 180m2 of carbon fibre arrived, from which the bodywork will be built. Production will take place at Airborne in The Hague, allowing us to use top facilities for the best result. Finishing the bodywork means we can go on track to test the new car to its limits, and prepare for the Gamma Racing Day in August.

After months spent on designing, doing reference work, hours of 3D modeling, tech-meetings with partners and former team we believe these projects will improve the performance of Forze in reliability, endurance and speed . This should enable us to outrun even more fossil fueled cars on the track and promote the possibilities of a hydrogen fueled future to even more people than last year.

SHOWTIME

On January 9th the Forze VII was in the spotlight during a company event of Wensink. The Dutch car dealership company invited us to present our team and car and to take part in a entertaining show for their 900 employees. This meant that our driver Leo put on his Forze racesuit again and drove the Forze VII on stage. Then we shared our passion for hydrogen mobility with the huge audience. A few minutes later we featured in an amazing show together with live music, acrobats, and countless zero-emission vehicles: electric motorbikes, a hydrogen converted Tesla or ‘Hesla’ (enabling it to drive 1000km), our colleagues from the Nuon solar team and many more. Despite all of these amazing acts, our hydrogen race car really stood out. This was Forze’s first real dynamic exhibition and immediately it was a success. We concluded that our blue lady looks just as good on stage as on track.

Wensink event video 

HIGH SCHOOL VISIT

Friday January 12th Simon visited his old high school, Mencia de Mendoza Lyceum in Breda, to inspire students by giving lectures on hydrogen and race car physics. If you are passionate about a subject, it is surprisingly easy to fill full lecture hours. It was great to see that the students asked a lot of tough questions; more than most adults.

Future Car presentation at Wensink Event

Dyno test Automotive school of Rotterdam

Preparations track test Zandvoort

High High school visit

Hesla  Hesla, T-Ford, Forze VII

New BE driver license applicants

Meeting the Presidents of the Benelux & Planning insight

After lots of communication with untraceable phone numbers and email addresses the moment was there, we were meeting with the Prime Ministers of the Netherlands (Mark Rutte), Belgium (Charles Michel) and Luxembourg (Xavier Bettel) during the Benelux Top to discuss the future of hydrogen. Positive note; implementing more hydrogen fuel stations in the Benelux is a high priority on their political agenda.

Meeting the Presidents

When we (Karsten Bakker, Gijs vermeij, Christophe Geuens and Simon Vermeijlen) arrived at “Het Catshuis” we did not really know what to expect. At the beginning all the police, personal drivers, press, event managers and people concerned with our “performance” were quite overwhelming. But after unloading our Forze VII we were getting comfortable and received an extensive briefing about our meeting. They urged us not to ask if the Prime Minister would like to take place behind the steering wheel of the Forze VII, a thing we really liked to do. But taking seat in the car could put the Prime Minister in a too awkward position with press around.

We provided the three Prime Ministers with a so-called energizing session in between their meeting and diner. In 15-20 minutes we were able to have a private talk with the three Prime Ministers surrounding our car. In this time we explained the vision, mission and functioning of our team and the advantages of fuel cell technology. Furthermore they were interested in us as students, our studies and setup of our project. They were smooth in their communication and made lots of politically correct jokes.

Dyno-test

From pitlane to politics and back to the garage as we had to prepare and run another dyno test. We mainly tested our new water separator, which we improved to prevent water getting mixed into the air, needed to run the fuel cell. In addition we tried to eliminate the oscillations of our high side current to prevent damage in our systems and improve our power output.

Road services “help” Forze

In addition we had a visit of the first hydrogen powered road service car of the Netherlands  (ANWB wegenwacht). Which started as a fun idea ended up in a hydrogen promotion video to show hydrogen is accessible nowadays and even familiar instances like the ANWB are putting fuel cell cars on the road. The video reached over a 100.000 people in 2 days and delivered some pretty enthusiastic reactions on all our social media platforms. It might even be that a fictional brand character of the team, called the stig’s hydrogen cousin also known as The Forze Driver, was created.

Behind the scenes:

Road Racing

Together with our main sponsor PitPoint we attended the Elfwegentocht company event. At the moment we are looking into public road racing projects to bring the car’s performances and the sustainable hydrogen mobility to the people. The Elfwegentocht is a two week long event in July, in which not a single drop of fossil fuel is used in the mobility sector of Friesland. This could be a great platform for Forze’s mission.

Jumbo Racing & Sinterklaas

Together with our main sponsor PitPoint we attended the Elfwegentocht company event. At the moment we are looking into public road racing projects to bring the car’s performances and the sustainable hydrogen mobility to the people. The Elfwegentocht is a two week long event in July in which not a single drop of fossil fuel is used in the mobility sector of Friesland. This could be a great platform for Forze’s mission.

Last we had some great contact with our partners during the sponsor drink in which we had every attended set a laptime in our new simulator. Our vehicle and aerodynamics department were happy to be invited by Dayvtech to make notes of the aero-package and suspension of the extremely cool but unfortunately not (yet) hydrogen fueled le Mains racer of the Jumbo racing team. Then they finished their day by joining the rest of the team to celebrate the good old saints birthday for Sinterklaas

By: Karsten Bakker

Planning & Progress

December has fallen upon us, meaning that we are now over 3 months into our year. December is also crucial in terms of the design process, as the designs of most of the larger projects have to be finalised in this month. It is therefore a good time to mirror the progress made against the initial planning.

A quick glance at the Gantt chart compiled in August shows that many projects take somewhat longer than expected. The two main reasons are that most things are new to our engineers and take time to master. Also, we simply cannot spend all the time we have on our own projects. Things like short term tasks, test days and other events take up time as well.

This does not mean that no progress has been made. On the contrary: many projects are far in their design phase. During the past month, several large projects have undergone review during the design presentations. These presentations allow current as well as previous board members to shed a light on the designs, and give feedback based on their own expertise. The meetings are usually held in the evening and often turn out to be very lengthy. But they also turn out to be crucial for the final design. The feedback our engineers get really helps them in the process. The meetings also serve as a deadline to have their design finished up to a certain point.

Examples of projects that have been under review lately are the subframe and the low voltage power system. Both projects are essential parts of the redesign of the car this year. A delay here would delay the entire assembly process.

Another big project in this respect is the redesign of the bodywork. Having finished the CAD model of the first design, our aerodynamics engineers have now started to analyse air flows around the model using CFD software. They will further iterate on the model in the coming weeks to optimise its aerodynamic properties.

As a Technical Manager, my role is to make the initial planning of all the projects we do, prioritise the different projects, keep track of all the progress, and adjust the planning when necessary. Making sure the projects are finished in time is my number one responsibility. This mainly involves discussing the progress with our engineers, see where time can be gained and where certain projects may have to be dropped. The ultimate goal of the year is to perform on the Gamma Racing Days, and eventually the projects that contribute most to this goal, should have the highest priority.

“Plans are nothing; planning is everything”

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower

By: Thomas Barendse

 

Maximal gearbox testing & knowledge transfer

Intro

The 18 fulltimers are getting their hands on the difficulties of high-tech hydrogen (racing) engineering and its industry. A lot of effort is being put into acquiring components like new hydrogen storage tanks, performing race simulations to find the maximum gearbox torque and adapting complex designs. In addition the Ministry of Defense showed interest in our fuel cell system. 

Scroll down for pictures

Maximal gearbox testing 

At the moment a lot of effort is being put in the arrangement of new hydrogen tanks, to get us from 350 up to 700 bar enabling us to almost double hydrogen storage and thereby our racing minutes. Finally this should help us set highly competitive lap times in the Supercar Challenge.  In addition a big project we worked on concerned a leaking gearbox. During a test at the RDW Lelystad, a GoPro was mounted under the rear cover of the car. When driving laps on the track, this GoPro would take footage of the gearbox in action, such that we could see where the oil was leaking.

Since we also were testing the gearbox on the maximal torque it can deliver, some unfavourable spectacular footage could also be expected if the gearbox did reach its limits. Fortunately it did not break, but we could clearly see a lot of oil leaking. Surprisingly, the footage also showed that the gearbox shifted in its mount when loaded… Luckily were able to spot and fix this on time before doing any damage to our car.

Although we now were certain that it was the gearbox which is leaking, we did not know where from. To figure that out, another test was planned. This time, fluorescent dye was mixed with the gearbox oil and a UV-lamp illuminated the system. With this addition, it became very easy to pinpoint the source of our leakage problems. And, besides from creating a huge mess, it gave us some pretty, disco-esque pictures of our car.

Besides the gearbox project there are various other activities going on as well. The Fuel Cell department, for example, is 3D printing its own components for use in the car. Other departments are mainly working out their design concepts or are installing a large amount of sensors they just acquired from goodwill companies. In the current phase a lot of work goes into these finalising and adapting concepts, as we are rebuilding the entire chassis of the car.

Knowledge transfer

Communication is key. Besides advising others, we ourselves can use a lot of advice on our projects as well. For this, we scheduled a quarterly meeting with the previous boards of Forze. To get as much valuable knowledge as possible across, we openly discussed our running projects. When taking into account that our team is running for 10 years, the core-team fully changes every year and that we are in a rapidly evolving industry, you could imagine that good communication is saving us a lot. To smoothen the knowledge transfer we see proper communication as an essential part of our focus. This starts with a stand-up every morning at 10:00 o’clock with all the team members present.

Science For Humanity. On Friday 13 and Saturday 14 October the Forze VII was surrounded by high-tech military vehicles of the Dutch Defense. In the stylish new National Military Museum the Science for Humanity event gave us the opportunity to discuss hydrogen with very interesting people from Defense. We concluded that the Ministry of Defense is seriously investigating innovative energy solutions like hydrogen fuel cell systems.

Hydrogen = Trending On the 19th of October we made our second visit to the Martiniplaza in Groningen. This time we were exhibiting the Forze VII at Trendship. We were surrounded by a lot of interesting people the whole day. The guests really appreciated our team and were already quite knowledgeable on hydrogen themselves.

Open Days The faculties of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics & Computer Science and Industrial Design asked us to be present at their open days. We inspired upcoming students with our Forze stories and with our two most recent hydrogen racecars of course, the Forze VI and VII.

Karsten Bakker, Christophe Geuens, Simon Vermeijlen

 

 

September: Forze is Wanted

September was a month of the most prestigious events (scroll down for pictures), the car’s first test day with the new team and getting to know the ropes of everyone’s individual function. The interest in Forze and our challenging future plans make the first month even more thriving than expected. In the racing industry it is definitely moving with pace…

Forze: wanted

The first month was full of events for Forze. On Saturday September 2nd, the Forze VII made its first appearance of the month in Breda. The VSV of the Aerospace faculty invited us to come to their Airshow at Breda International Airport. Our ‘Blue Lady’ was lined up between the airplanes and got lots of attention. Airplane fanatics apparently really like race cars as well!

Next Friday, September 8th, we went up North, to the ‘Ondernemersgala’ in Groningen. The Forze VII was showed off in the spotlights on a huge stage. She was surrounded by a full orchestra for a spectacular night of music and dancing.

Forze’s biggest and most spectacular static event yet was up next. From September 12th until September 17th the Forze VII was exhibited at the world’s largest motor show, the IAA in Frankfurt. At the stand of our partner DSM, we attracted lots of visitors from all over the globe. We were happy to witness the release of many new production cars, including Mercedes Benz’s latest fuel cell model, the GLC F-Cell. It was a fantastic feeling to be appreciated and praised by so many interesting people in the automotive industry.

On Thursday September 28th the Forze VI got to be part of yet another interesting event. At the Insight Techshow in Amsterdam, she was a real eye catcher right at the entrance. Our Software Engineer, Jan Maarten, accompanied our previous racer and found himself in his natural habitat as the theme was ‘Connected through the Cloud’.

The next day, the Forze VII was taken to its last event of the month. In Deventer, the ’24h Waterstof Challenge’ was about to begin. Six teams attempted to drive their hydrogen fuel cell car as far as possible through Europe in 24 hours. Forze was happy to launch the challenge and speak to some interesting people in the hydrogen industry. We hope the challenge gives another boost to the awareness of the potential of hydrogen.

We are technically busy

Vehicle dynamics has started with the design of the new subframe. Joints are being modelled, meetings are still held till deep in the evening and early hours tweaking of the suspension is not uncommon. Luckily, we have a (vehicle) dynamic duo working around the clock to make sure the subframe will be nothing less than the absolute best. Our aerodynamics engineers are still glued to their computers doing nothing but modelling and looking at pictures of the most advanced race cars. Meanwhile the fuel cell department is breaking their heads over all the data and complicated fuel lines. The electro and powertrain departments have already started visiting sponsors and meeting experts about all the confusing cables, PCB’s and converters.

Only working on new designs however yields a very good car in the simulations but a poorly functioning car. Therefore we also already started with testing. From the first test the new team learned about all the protocols and safety requirements. The old team explained us all the ins and outs of conducting a good test. This resulted in valuable new insights on our humidification system which still needs some fine-tuning. The second test, we conducted our self, was a very exciting one. Finally we had the chance to test our inhouse developed gearbox to the max. During the first part of the test we forgot to turn off the safety, which made us falsely convinced our gearbox was very strong, but when we fixed this mistake, we all got rewarded that our gearbox was indeed very strong as it could handle the maximum torque our motors can deliver. Aside from one of the aerodynamics engineers trying to install the rear wing upside down the test went fairly smooth and gave us confidence in the new team. We are sure the upcoming year will be a rollercoaster with glorious and stressful times, but the past month gave a heads up that we will surely make a hydrogen car that is able to win from combustion cars.

 

 

Karsten Bakker, Simon Vermeijlen, Jelle de Vries

July: The Countdown

The last month before the world premiere has begun: only one month left before we head east towards the Gamma Racing Days 2017! It has not always been easy, or hardly normal, but we are confident and hopeful to show you the best hydrogen race car ever built. After the valuable learning experience of the Pinksterraces, we are now pushing the limits even more. The repair of the driveshaft demanded quite some hours in order to prevent the malfunction from happening again. After a long session on the dynamometer with a redesigned housing in the gearbox, it is now time to get back on the track. We will now fully focus on racing, making it the best Supercar Challenge ever!

June: The First Circuit Test Ever

This might be the hottest newsletter so far! It has definitely been an exciting month. We added some milage to our Forze VII last month with a top speed of 183km/h overnight and the lady has set her very first meters on Circuit Zandvoort. The team has worked incredibly hard to realise this premiere and we are more than happy with the achievements. Have fun reading our June’s newsletter and do not forget to save the date whilst planning your holiday: August 5 & 6!