Singapore, 13 March 2018: An Interview with Associate Professor Ng Heong Wah (School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University - NTU Singapore)
Assoc. Prof. Ng Heong Wah gained his degrees in B.Eng - Mechanical Engineering and PhD from the University of Liverpool, U.K . Before joining NTU in 1990, he spent 9 years in the UK nuclear power engineering industry specializing in reactor structural and dynamic analyses and high temperature pressure system components design and plant life assessments. Besides conducting academic research in diverse topics and teaching at NTU, he is the faculty advisor to student design and built car projects since 2008. The student teams have since won many awards. He is a UK Chartered Engineer, Fellow of IMechE and a Singapore registered Professional Engineer.
Could you explain more about the NTU Venture 8 Micro Car project?
It was a project started 5 years ago, when our lab had just acquired a 3D printer. At that time, it was one of the first printers in the School. While it could print small parts under the size of a large microwave oven, we wanted to do something larger with it, at that time a car seems like a good idea. It took us one whole year to design, 3D print and assemble the cabin. There are a total of 150 pieces of 3D parts joined together by epoxy. It runs on two electric motors at the rear wheels and can be powered by solar power. It has a top speed of 100kmph (if pushed to the limit) and has a maximum efficiency of 80km/kwh. It participated in various overseas competitions, such as SEM in Manila and London, attended many exhibitions, starred in TV news, documentaries, and publicity campaigns, spreading the words about 3D printing technology and Shell Eco-marathon. To date, it has won five awards in the Shell Eco-marathon competitions: 1st place in hydrogen category, 3rd place in battery-electric category and off-track awards in Safety, Design and Communications. It truly had a chequered career.
Why did you choose to use hydrogen to power the car during the race?
For the past three years, the car was always powered using a Lithium-Ion Battery pack, but this year we wanted to try something new and challenging. As part of an education institution, we want students to learn more about hydrogen fuel cell technology and building a hydrogen car seems a good way to start. I believe in the increasing demand for future, renewable and clean technologies to save our planet for future generations and this project provides an opportunity for students to learn at a practical and implementation level, not just theory from textbooks.
How do you envision hydrogen power for the future commercial and industrial markets and applications?
Since hydrogen is abundant, it is not surprising that hydrogen will be an important energy carrier in the future, like solar and wind. Hydrogen will power not just cars, but also at a much larger scale, given the improvement of technology over time.
With your team winning the first place for UrbanConcept - Hydrogen Car during this year's race, what is your plan for the upcoming years?
With such a great result this year, it is a good start and we will continue using hydrogen fuel cell for the next couple of years. We will improve on its efficiency and make it more reliable. For the next competition we are thinking of building a new car which is more suited for hydrogen fuel cell category. It will be designed for safety, ease of access, and maintenance - much better than the NTU Venture 8 which was not designed for this type of fuel.