Electric motorcycle: There are those who say that electric vehicles are the future of the global automotive scene. In Brazil, the sector is still in its infancy, but some people are already working hard to launch pioneering initiatives. This is the case of a group of students from the Federal University of Uberlândia (UFU), in Minas Gerais, which is developing the first electric motorcycle for competition in Latin America.
It all started in 2018, when Mechanical Engineering student Ruy de Sousa Alves decided to unite his love of two-wheeled vehicles with the world of electric vehicles. His goal, however, was not just to work with what he liked, but to reduce the dropout rate from the course, which was high at the time. Encouraging his colleagues to continue their studies, the student started building the electric motorcycle at the Automobile Mobility laboratory, the Lamau.
The initiative worked and the team – which currently has about 30 people – is preparing for the sixth edition of the International Moto Student Championship, an event that takes place in Spain and gathers university students from all over the world. The challenge of the championship is to apply all the knowledge acquired during the years in college and to develop a prototype of racing motorcycle, which must be tested on the track.
The UFU team is the only Brazilian representative of the electrical category at the event. Another 73 universities from the United States, Spain, France, India and Italy and other countries are also expected to participate.
Selling water at the traffic light
With no financial investment from the university, the group raised R $ 15,000 to pay the enrollment fee, in early 2019. To get the necessary amount, students have already created several actions, including the sale of water bottles at traffic lights and the realization of ‘ chicken ‘at the university. “With the beginning of isolation, we sold many raffles and lunch boxes that were donated to vulnerable people,” says project member Leonardo Natali.
In order to get the necessary amount, students have already created several actions, including the sale of water bottles at the traffic lights and chicken hens at the university (Reproduction)
The student and administrative director of Lamau, Gabriel Martins, explained that the biggest challenge so far has been to raise funds. “The call for competition calls for each team to use the same internal parts, so in addition to registration, we had to purchase the parts that came directly from Spain. So far, we have managed to raise approximately R $ 120 thousand for the project ”, he says. According to him, the group still intends to get more than R $ 50 thousand to bear the costs of transporting the bike and the team, accommodation and food. For this, the university students created a virtual kitty, with the goal of collecting the amount in 60 days.
The bike was built entirely by the students and guided by Lamau’s partner initiatives. Its structure is composed of aluminum and, according to Natali, it went through several computer simulations in the Ansys software for the project to be validated. The vehicle’s battery consists of 432 rechargeable lithium cells and the engine has a maximum power of 42,000 W (42 KW). Weighing 23 kg, the prototype compares to a 300-cylinder motorcycle.
Plans for the future
With the visibility of the motorcycle, the team explains that it intends to continue with other Laboratory projects, which needed to be paused. Among them are the development of an inexpensive electric wheelchair and the production of a tricycle for selective garbage collection in the city of Uberlândia, with the objective of replacing human and animal traction.