Electric van powers drive for fuel savings
A University of Waikato van will be silently making its way around campus after four fourth year mechanical engineering students removed its engine and replaced it with an electric motor.
The van was originally powered by a 1.3 litre petrol engine but as part of a year-long Honours project, Nathan Dibley, Mark Shimanski, Richard Xie and Tom-John Nelis repowered it with an electric motor that is capable of a top speed of about 106km/h and a distance of 120 km on one charge.
What the students have done is fit a 70kW continuous DC brushless electric motor, controller and batteries. Apart from removing the engine, petrol tank and exhaust, they have designed a system for coupling the electric motor to the gearbox, installed a Hamilton-built motor controller and designed a battery enclosure that meets New Zealand’s electric vehicle requirements
When complete, it will have 95 cells producing about 300 volts.
The students have worked out it will take four to five years of use for the cost of converting it to electricity to pay off, but the further it drives the faster the payback.
Their supervisor, Dr Mike Duke, says the students have done an excellent job getting the electric van operational in one year.
“There is a lot of interest in the commercial viability of electric van conversions and we plan to research its performance to determine the benefits.”
Mechanical engineering students, from left, Tom-John Nelis, Richard Xie, Mark Shimanski and Nathan Dibley in the van they converted to run on electricity.