Being a freshman on a college campus has its setbacks, but being a freshman on the Mississippi State University EcoCAR 2 team has no limitations, especially for Stephen Hayden. After only being part of the team for three months, MSU’s team leaders trusted Stephen to lead the preparation of the molds for the energy storage system (ESS), which contains high voltage components. The team also allowed him to play a crucial role in the creation of the actual ESS carbon fiber enclosure. Since he is a freshman, and new to the EcoCAR 2 challenge, composite work was a brand new field for him. The only experience he had in the past with composite work was working with fiberglass.
“Though carbon fiber is similar to fiberglass, it is a completely different beast. Therefore, creating the ESS out of carbon fiber was a very long and tedious process, but an amazing learning experience,” Stephen said.
The top section of the ESS consisted of three layers of material. The first two layers placed on the ESS were fiberglass, in order to make the entire ESS dielectric. Then, a layer of carbon fiber was applied to the mold.
The bottom section of the ESS contained two layers of fiberglass. But several layers of carbon fiber were applied to the bottom section of the ESS to provide extra rigidity and strength. An area that required special attention was the center section of the ESS; an “X” of unidirectional carbon fiber weave was added to increase the torsion strength in the center.
Creating the ESS out of carbon fiber allowed the team to create a rigid, yet incredibly light, high voltage enclosure. The two sections of the ESS, the top and the bottom, weigh a total of only twenty-five pounds. Laying up carbon fiber for the ESS was a completely new experience for Stephen. Despite this, he thoroughly enjoyed learning how to work with this material.
“I feel fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful team that allows freshmen to participate in creating such key components for the vehicle,” he said. “I am blessed to be able to call Mississippi State University home and be part of such a wonderful EcoCAR 2 team at the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems.”