Kayu* is cool
When it comes to building a race car, wood seems like one of the least likely materials to use.
But that's what students from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) used. And they were big winners at an international competition in the Philippines.
Not only was the diesel-powered vehicle a dream to drive, it picked up three awards, the most by any car that participated in the Shell Eco-marathon Asia, a race car competition with an emphasis on fuel efficiency and innovation.
The event, held from Feb 6 to 9 at Luneta Park in Manila, saw 109 teams from 15 countries in Asia and the Middle East taking part.
The Nanyang Venture VI won NTU awards for safety and design. It also won the silver award in the prototype category.
The car, nicknamed the Wooden Wonder, can travel 338km, or back and forth between Tuas and Changi eight times, on just one litre of diesel fuel.
Mr Ng Jun Wen, 23, one of the nine members of Nanyang Venture VI team, said the idea of building a wooden car was floated by their mentor, Professor Francis Nickols.
"In previous competitions we used carbon fibre. So this time we wanted to try something different," Mr Ng said.
"If you look along the grain, the strength of wood is actually comparable to that of steel.
"Another reason is that wood is easy to modify, unlike other materials."
He said wood had to be made resistant to humidity, rain, and other environmental conditions. So they used wax and varnish over the surface of the car.Using wood proved key to winning its award for safety, as the strips of wood absorb energy during impact and were designed to break up into small parts instead of fragmenting into large and dangerous shards.
Mr Kam Sen Hao, 24, was responsible for hand-crafting the car with laser-cutting, computer numerical control, and robotic arms.
They began work in late 2012 and used a mix of wood and metal.
Mr Sheral Crescent, 23, who is also part of the team, said: "Our car attracted the most attention (at the competition).
"We sort of expected to win the design award, we just weren't sure about the other two."
The Venture VI wasn't the only car from Singapore to win awards.
NTU's other entry was an electric-powered solar-assisted car called the Nanyang Venture III.
It clinched the Award for Technological Innovation for its unique electromagnetic clutch, which eliminates energy loss through the drive-train, and its innovative aerodynamic design, both of which enable the car to travel smoothly.
Team iTerbo 3, from ITE College West, clinched first place in the Urban Concept - Battery Electric category.
NANYANG VENTURE VI 'WOODEN WONDER'
Efficiency: 338 km per litre
Top Speed: 70kmh
Made from: Marine plywood, pine, mahogany, aerospace-grade aluminium, steel, brass