Team gears up for new solar boat challenge
Manama, July 14, 2014
A team of engineering students from Bahrain, who failed to succeed at a major solar powered boats competition, plans to put their skills to the test once again.
They represented Bahrain University at the Dong Energy Solar Challenge 2014, which was held in the Netherlands, but did not complete the contest because their boat's shaft broke mid-race, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The six-member team was also under-represented as they went head to head with teams of 20 from universities from across the world.
However, they told the GDN they plan to improve their standing in 2016 when the biennial event, also known as the World Cup for Solar Powered Boats, is being held in Amsterdam.
"After competing in the 2014 Dong Solar Energy Challenge, Bahrain University is excited to compete in the Dong Solar Energy Challenge in 2016," said university applied physics professor Dr Waheeb Al Naser, who was the team's general supervisor.
"Bahrain has a history of working with solar energy technology and we wish to highlight this commitment in the 2016 Dong Solar Energy Challenge in Amsterdam.
"Our small team of six students were up against teams with up to 20 crew members, and this meant that one student was doing the work of three.
"However, students have shown greater interest in the project, which will allow us to compete with a larger team."
The GDN earlier reported that the team did not have time to build a boat ahead of the competition so the university purchased a Polish vessel that came in third place during the 2012 challenge.
The students made a number of modifications, but problems with the boat's shaft proved to counter these efforts.
"Issues surrounding the shaft initially arose due to algae, which negatively affected the propulsion of the boat on the first and second day," explained Dr Al Nasser.
"All teams experienced difficulties with the river's algae, however, we later found that the issue originated from inside the shaft, as we found signs of corrosion."
Team engineer Mohammed Muneer said problems with the shaft could have been caused by testing the boat in Bahrain's salty waters.
"It came to our attention that the custom-made shaft was experiencing problems in Holland, and we suspected that this could be from the age of the shaft and the fact that we were testing the boat in very high saline water in Bahrain," he said.
"The water in Bahrain is very corrosive and parts like this should be cleaned frequently to avoid such issues."
Team leader Ebrahim Noor pledged to raise their game in the next competition as they learn from their mistakes.
"The custom-made shaft broke on the third day, and we did not have the time or the equipment to fix the issue," he said.
"The shaft should have been replaced while in Bahrain; however, our late enrolment did not provide us with enough time to rectify this," he added.
Meanwhile, Dr Al Nasser said the university was committed to renewable solar energy, especially since it launched its 10,000 sq m solar panel project, which started feeding electricity to the national grid in February. - TradeArabia News Service