The vehicle incorporates TeXtreme® carbon fabrics in the door panels, rear hatch, dashboard, bumpers and cladding. The team opted for fabrics because they provide the popular “carbon fiber look” that is aesthetically pleasing. The vehicle’s roof rail was made with high-strength pultruded composites that can be mass manufactured at a low cost and create a curvature desired by Toyota.

Clemson students fabricated the uBox components using vacuum infusion. “We really wanted to have the students to do their own lay-up themselves. It was important for their educational experience that they understand that process,” Brooks says. Not only did the students make the composite panels, they made the whole car, then tested it in an echoless chamber at Clemson.

Perhaps the most impactful part of the entire experience for the students – and for future work – was when Clemson took the vehicle to SAE International’s 2016 World Congress. “A number of other universities there reached out to us to find out how they could do student projects like this,” Brooks says. “From an educational perspective, I think it’s really helped open eyes.”

The next project, Deep Orange 7, is already “far along in the process,” according to Brooks. Its objective is to work on BMW’s MINI brand to create “a revolutionary MINI technology demonstrator facing the potential requirements to come within the next decade as part of a collaborative real-world educational experience.” McConomy is also working on Deep Orange 8, which is still in the concept development stage.

Detecting Danger

Project: Alkane fuel scanner
School: University of Utah
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Principal Investigator: Ling Zang

One of the ways the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ensures the safety of Americans is to thwart dangerous acts before they happen. That may be why the DHS, National Science Foundation and NASA funded research at the University of Utah to create a novel material for a handheld scanner that can detect small traces of alkane fuel vapor. Alkane vapor, when detected, can be an early warning signal for leaks in an oil pipeline or airliner – or for locating a terrorist’s explosive.

According to the University of Utah, there are no small, portable chemical sensors to detect alkane fuel vapor because the vapor is not chemically reactive. So Utah professor Ling Zang, doctoral students Chen Wang and Yaqiong Zhang, and postdoctoral fellow Ben Bunes developed a handheld scanner that uses a novel, chemically-reactive composite to detect the vapor.