Team Cascade Wins the School's Aerospace Challenge 2020
On Wednesday, 8th October, Team Cascade presented their winning project to other students in school, so they could see the journey that Mridhula, Arzina and Ananya had made in lockdown, from deciding to enter the Schools’s Aerospace Challenge 2020, to researching and submitting their project, and getting through to the shortlist of presentations, to being grilled by judges, and then being awarded £1000 as a winning team. Congratulations to them!
Here is their Team Captain’s account:
I came across this competition at the start of lockdown and immediately wanted to get involved, leading me to join up with a couple of my friends who shared my enthusiasm in engineering, create our team name - Team Cascade - and sign up for the SAC. Our brief was to explore, compare and contrast the various Hybrid Power alternatives that are possible in aviation and include the most suitable in a new tactical airlift capability for the RAF. Tactical airlifting transports people, supplies and equipment through the air within an area where important military events are taking place, or in locations of emergencies. To begin our research towards our design, we looked into existing tactical airlifters - both in the RAF and across the globe - and explored what made them successful in their role in the air force. We learnt about turboprop engines (which are the most frequently used engine in tactical airlifters for its efficiency at low altitudes and slow travel), aircraft such as the Airbus Atlas A400M and the Boeing CH-47 Chinook and what makes them valuable in the RAF, and also explored the main environmental impacts of the power system currently in use across these aircraft. When setting our targets for our design, we aimed for reduction in fuel consumption, which has a knock-on effect on emissions and therefore the aircraft’s carbon footprint, as well as the multi-functionality of the aircraft, as this makes it more valuable and cost effective. Various power sources we researched included biofuel, electric hybrid, solar power and wind power.
Our final design entailed converting mechanical power produced from burning biofuel in an engine into electrical power, which is dissipated across the propellers and the rest of the aircraft systems. The overall system allows for higher efficiency and reduced fuel consumption, as well as removing harmful emissions such as sulphur dioxide and carbon particulates. Batteries were also implemented in our design, with a charging method that harnessed wind energy through the tilt rotor propellers and a combined motor generator.
We produced a 5-page research report for the first round of the competition, running through our research and design decisions. From this, we were selected as one of 12 teams for the final round, which involved an online presentation of our design to the judges and answering their challenging questions. During the summer, we were told that we were one of the 6 winning teams and had won £1000. All of us thoroughly enjoyed the process, having joined this competition with little to no knowledge on aircraft power systems. We all learnt an incredible amount about the aerospace industry and were absolutely thrilled to have this exposure. Working in lockdown was also quite different, as we were not able to meet face-to-face until school opened this year, resulting in spending hours together on Google Meets coordinating our research, without realising how long we had been online! All three of us would like to say a massive heartfelt thank you to Mrs Conlon, Mr Hill and Mr Smith, our Physics teachers, who reviewed and supported our project work throughout the process and even during the summer holidays - we couldn’t have made it without them!