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Thread: Ideas to pursue for innovation points

  1. #1
    I was at last year's Formula SAE competition, and listened as one of the design judges commented in detail about the Design Scores, and how low most team's scores were regarding innovation. It's only 30 points out of 1000, but it seems to be the most appealing and challenging to new engineers wanting to prove themselves and change the world.

    Well, I thought I'd start a post about it, and start with a proven concept that could use further exploration with modern materials and machining ability: Sleeve Valves

    The rules do not state anything about the valve mechanism of the engine, only that it need to be of the piston 4-stroke type. Since single cylinder engines seems to be gaining popularity, and this concept would be easier to explore on a single.

    A little history lesson: Sleeve valves were uses to power military aircraft during WWII right as jet engines were being developed for aircraft. The liquid cooled, forced induction sleeve valve engines were achieving mean effective pressures of 350-400 PSI. The sleeve was ported (similar to a 2-stroke) and rotated and recipricated between the cylinder block and the piston.
    Dan De Clute-Melancon
    Iowa State FSAE alumni
    Project Manager 03-04
    Engine Team Leader 02-03

  2. #2
    How about creating a lay down engine design a la the Brabham BT55 lowline? You could make a case about a lower CG, and getting the bearings, etc to work would be a worthy challenge, I think.

    A sleeve valve engine would be even more difficult--you might want to get a copy of SAE paper 2003-01-2275 by Alvin Lowi on a recent small sleeve valved UAV engine.

  3. #3
    was that engine not termed the six stroke? modifications like that are outwith the scope of most universities but it would be great to see. innovations are generally closely guarded secrets until you get to the competition

    how bout the concept of an air cooled CBR, based around the brabham bt46b fan car concept?
    http://www.formulastudent.strath.ac.uk &lt;--- naked ladies... i promise!

  4. #4

    I was looking for another company that does this, but this is way better then I remember. Even looks feasible
    'engine and turbo guy'
    Cornell 02-03

  5. #5
    that Coates engine is awesome. The biggest problem he had was with the Graphite rotary seals from what I remember.
    UNM FSAE 2003 to 2005

  6. #6
    Psychosis - I believe the term '6 stroke' is specific to the Jack Brabham/Beare engines. They are similar to the Coates valvetrain in that there are no poppet valves or camshafts, and are more efficient that traditional cylinder head setups. Rather than having the rotary valves like the Coates engines, there is a second piston in the head which oscillates at half the frequency of the crankshaft, giving the additional 2 strokes per cylinder cycle.
    I think a major factor in this design was the ability of the valvetrain to contribute to the power at the crankshaft.
    Looks like it'd be hard to calculate the maximum volume of each chamber though... unless you just took it as the volume at TDC. Perhaps another advantage...?

  7. #7
    A little off the topic direction you goes were going on, but it's only 15 points isn't it? I don't think they could make it a signifigant portion, because 'Innovation' seems very qualitative doesn't it? How do you define it? I realize in the rules they say "Are any of the components or systems unique? Do the innovations add to the product's functions?", but it still raises questions to me. I'll use Western Australia for an example because they use a different suspension system than I have seen on any cars at competition. If they continue to use this system for the next 5 years to come, and the rest of the field doesn't convert, are they innovative because they are the only one using it? Or does it wear off after the first year or two? And how about something that is used say on passenger cars and has been for several years (I can't think of an example at this time at night) but has never been applied to a FSAE car? Would it be considered innovative even though it may be commonplace on other vehicles?

    i.e. Unique in what respects? Unique in FSAE? Cars? Trucks? Automobiles? What about research that doesn't turn out to contribute all that well to 'the product's function'? Maybe the team 'did not take the time' to change their designs before competition and ran with it. This can steer further research and innovation on the subject in the right direction, but is the team going to be penalized for either a theory they couldn't impliment well enough to show improvements on the car, or due to mistakes or unforseeable events will not practically contribute additive benifit to the product/car? Opinions on the usefulness of a particular function might also differ from judge to judge, although this point might not be a problem since I believe we have a great group of judges who are looking to reward thinking with the goal of improving the vehicle. Maybe it should be called 'coolness factor'
    Martin Raska
    UBC FSAE 2003-2007

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tsk, tsk, mutter, mutter....

    When this thread first came up I didn't have time to post on it. Anyway, I thought I'd wait and see what innovations all you bright young FSAE'rs were cooking up before I commented.

    NOTHING! Shame on you all!!! No wonder the judges aren't awarding any innovation points. (Apologies to any FSAE innovators out there who are saving their baby as a surprise. )

    FWIW, IMHO, there is bugger all innovation in motorsport. For the most part raceteams just take a standard production car, or the standard model racecar from last year, and then try to improve it by making it more expensive - ie. using the same configuration of parts but replacing cheap steel with the most expensive titanium/aluminium-beryllium/carbonfibre/whatever...

    Most of the so called "cutting-edge innovative breakthroughs" in motorsport are simply ideas that have been borrowed from other industries. Examples: Renault put a turbocharger on a farm tractor in 1902(?). Aircraft manufacturers started fitting them to fighter planes in WWII. Then, finally, at the end of the 1960's, turbos started to appear on a few racecars. Another ten years before they began to appear in F1 - supposedly the pinnacle of high-tech motorsport.

    Or consider fibre-reinforced-plastics - used by boatbuilders and garden furniture manufacturers for decades before being picked up by racers. Advanced carbon-FRP - used on golf clubs and tennis racquets long before they appeared on any racecar. Or "active suspension" - fitted to baseline production cars (Citroen ID) from the mid-1950's onwards, before eventually making it to F1 30 years later (and it took the racers more than a few tries to get it right!). Etc., etc...

    Occasionally someone in amateur motorsport gets a good idea they want to try out (perhaps they saw it on a farm tractor somewhere ). They try it out on their homebuilt and it works. But hardly anyone sees it, so they try to promote it by offering it to a big-budget team. FAT CHANCE! The big$ teams are terrified of new ideas. The small guy actually has to pay the big team "sponsorship money" to put his innovation on their car! If it works the big$ team is a "hot-house of dynamic, edge-of-the-envelope thinking". If it doesn't work (because the big$ team stuff it up) it is hushed up, or the "whacko lone-inventor" is blamed as the scapegoat.

    End of the main part of the rant.

    So it is really not that hard for FSAE teams to earn "innovation points". All you have to do is build a car that is just slightly different to the standard car. If you borrow just one idea from somewhere other than FSAE you will be making a "radical breakthrough".

    I will leave it a few days before listing some of the many "innovations" that I can think of, that could appear on FSAE cars. These ideas would actually provide a significant improvement in performance of the cars, so you could gain lots of "Dynamic Event" points as well as the few innovation points on offer.


  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Oh well... still nothing... This could have been a good thread. Obviously not many engineers here. "Engineer" stems from ingenuity (L. "ingenium" = cleverness).

    So, probably wasting my time, but...

    Some Possible Innovations for FSAE:

    ENGINE - Rules are overly restrictive, but nevertheless, build your own FSAE optimised engine. Ie. a lightweight, compact, fuel-efficient, wide torque band, and inexpensive package that works best when breathing through a 20mm restrictor. Elsewhere I suggested a turbo/supercharged "1/8 of smallblock V8". Other innovations, apart from rotary valves, might be:
    * Adiabatic combustion chamber - eg. flat-head engine with rectangular block of ceramic for head and ceramic topped piston. Hotter exhaust gases driving turbo make up for poor VE of small valves.
    * Different types of S/C - of which there are countless...
    * Innovative manufacturing - eg. fabricate block/crankcase from sheet steel (it has been done many times, but would still count as innovative in FSAE).
    * Etc., etc...

    DRIVETRAIN - Get rid of those gears!
    * With good wide torque-band engine maybe no ratio changes needed at all - just a clutch and neutral.
    * Or a torque converter (ie. hydro-dynamic donut from an auto-box), preferably with "lock-up"at higher speeds for better fuel economy. TC slip at low speeds gives "low gear". As used on many successful drag cars.
    * Or any of many types of CVT...
    * Or combine rubber belt CVT with a planetary gearset for an Infinitely Variable Transmission (IVT). This eliminates need for clutch slip at start line - great for Acceleration event!
    * Or hydrostatic IVT...

    FINAL DRIVE - See "Torque bias ratio" thread for posts on "free-wheel diff" and "torque-steer diff" via spool and 2 clutches. The TSD clutches could be used for start and gear-changing, eliminating need for normal engine clutch.

    BRAKES - Regenerative!
    * Combine a hydrostatic IVT with a hydraulic accumulator. Only use on rear (driven) wheels at first. Main advantages are fuel economy, which should be significantly better, and more power for brief periods, so better acceleration out of corners, even with low power engine. This is a very worthwhile innovation, but may be illegal?

    SUSPENSION - Beam-axles, lateral swing arms, or leading and trailing arms, are all simpler and can be made to work as well as, or better than the standard double-wishbone setup. A bit of innovation in passive interconnecting springs (Find "Z-bars") will give a big performance improvement in a simpler overall package.
    * Or if you must use rockers (why?!), then do something useful with them like building them as rotary vane-type dampers acting on torsion-bar springs.

    CHASSIS - IMO the WWU "twin-tube" chassis qualifies as innovative, so make something similar in sheet steel or aluminium, or extruded magnesium...
    * Elsewhere I mentioned a steel monocoque "44 gallon drum" chassis - light, stiff, strong, cheap, easy to make, and different! Well, it is on 100 million production cars, but not yet on any FSAE cars.
    * Or a fibreglass monocoque, like Jim Hall did when he first decided to copy the boatbuilders. It doesn't have to be carbon! Many teams already have wet-layup FG bodywork, so bond in the steel roll hoops/safety structure to spread the point loads, and add some UD cloth at 45 degrees to carry the main torsional loads. This is pretty obvious - has anybody done it?
    * Or, disregarding apoplectic Design judges, make a wooden chassis (the original composite)! I'm sure many of the boaties I have known could build a plywood chassis that is lighter, stiffer, stronger than the standard tube frame. Not for me though, I hate woodwork...

    CONTROLS - Again, too restrictive rules. I would have liked to suggest "side-stick steering"...

    AERO - As I have mentioned many times before, there are huge performance gains to be had from good aero. Unless you blindly copy the standard front and rear wing thing here, pretty much anything is innovative. So, for example, if you do a live aero-undertray you have little option but to figure it out from scratch.

    If aero sounds too hard, remember that the Wright brothers were relatively uneducated bicycle manufacturers. No aerodynamics lectures or textbooks, no google, CFD, FEA, CAE, rapid prototyping, wind tunnels... Well, they did built their own small wind-tunnel...


  10. #10
    Dammit Z. You just gave away EVERYTHING we were gonna put on our '06 car. Now we gotta start from scratch and try to come up with somethin else between now and May.
    Colorado FSAE | '05 - '07
    Goodyear Tire & Rubber | '07 - '11
    NASCAR Engineer | '11 - ??

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