DOBSON — A Surry Early College High School of Design super senior has created a go-cart that goes farther for his science scholars program final project. Jacob Simpson said part of the application process to get a chance at the project and presentation included criteria such as credits received and class performance.
“It’s an electric go-cart designed to use motion to replenish the electric power to the battery,” explained Simpson. “When you stop the cart, you can flip a switch so motion (coasting) replenishes the battery and increases the life of the battery overall. The technology is used in a lot of hybrid vehicles which generate energy when breaking.”
Simpson said this type of technology was patented in the 1990s but was shelved because of lower fuel costs until the last decade.
“The biggest issue in electric vehicles is range. The technology I’ve used with this go-cart increases the overall range of the vehicle,” said Simpson. “People want to drive as far as they can because battery technology is costly.” He said he had read about the basic concepts of this technology and wanted to build an electric vehicle so he could see how it works.
“I really wanted to play with this and try it out. I’ve always been interested in transportation and mechanical things,” added Simpson. “This was a chance for me to jump in and get my feet wet. The opportunity arose when I had to do a project and I had the resources so I decided to do it.”
He said he grew up with cars with an uncle and a grandpa who were mechanics and his father, Marty, who is a service manager for a Ford dealership in Greensboro.
Simpson said the hardest part of the project for him was figuring out the correct gear ratio to pull weight and “still go somewhere” with the cart. He said his grandfather, James Simpson, helped him a lot with the go-cart, and the solution to the problem was a one-to-two ratio from the motor to a part called the mantle where the energy from the electric motor is transferred to the wheels.
“From there we just used the smallest sprocket we had to create torque to get the cart to pull itself,” said Simpson. “The cart will run six miles per hour and can even go up a slight incline. I wasn’t sure it would work until I tested it.” Another problem for Simpson was how to change the go-cart from using electricity to propel itself to a mode where electricity was being put back into the battery. He said he solved this with a separate switch and turning the throttle off.
Simpson said the answer is not the most “user efficient” but it was the easiest solution mechanically and electrically.
“I was happy with the way it turned out,” said Simpson. “I already have some improvements in mind. I want to have the electric motor rewound to improve power and speed, and I want to add a solar panel as well.” He said he left room to change things in the design of the go-cart because “doing something this new means you have to allow for a few more variables. There’s always room for improvement.”
He said he plans on graduating in May from Surry Community College and the Early College to give himself a combination of a high school diploma, an associate in science and an associate in arts. He wants to attend North Carolina State University in the fall and wants to study aerospace engineering.
Simpson said the addition of arts and humanities in his preparation work helps him in visualization and design. He said the project was well received by the judging panel. This group included SCC science department faculty, and teachers from the Early College as well.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.