How Solar Team Twente’s young talents contribute to a more sustainable future

Building a completely new car in one year that can cover more than 2,500 kilometres in Morocco as fast as possible, only using solar energy. Nineteen students from the University of Twente and Saxion University of Applied Sciences are facing this huge challenge. But what are they doing it for?

In short

  • Nineteen students from Solar Team Twente are building the most efficient solar car in the world.
  • The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge will not take place this year, but the students have set up an alternative in Morocco.
  • Solar Team Twente will race 2500 kilometres through the Sahara with a new car.

Global Goal

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Nineteen students have been working on building the most efficient solar car in the world since September 2020. The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, a competition for students, was scheduled for October of 2021. More than 40 teams from over 25 countries compete in the world championships for solar cars in a 3,000-kilometre race every two years. The teams build their solar cars according to guidelines that change every race. The organisation does this to challenge the students and to let them develop new techniques for their solar cars. The race in Australia was cancelled this year, but the student team from Twente managed to set up an alternative in Morocco.

New technologies

Many of the techniques that are developed here find their way to the industry. A great example is Solar Team Twente’s Motor Control Unit (MCU), which was developed in collaboration with engineering firm 3T from Enschede. This electrical tour de force controls the electric motor of the solar car. The engineers from 3T and the members of Solar Team Twente have been working on the MCU since 2017, and they hope to implement the optimal design in the solar cars soon. The new MCU has already been tested in Solar Team Twente’s older cars, and it performed exceptionally well. Jan Lenssen, team member of Solar Team Twente in 2017, initiated the new MCU in 2016, and he is currently supporting the new Solar Team Twente in the further development of the MCU on behalf of 3T. 

RED Horizon: the new symbol for a more sustainable future?

The team is now at the end of the production phase for their new solar car, RED Horizon. The team shared the first drawings of this unique, three-wheeled car in March. The team will present the RED Horizon on the 16th of July.

The new car will be shaped like a sharp arrow. While the mechanical parts of the car determine whether you finish the race, the aerodynamic properties determine how efficient and fast you will be. “The air resistance determines how much energy you need in order to drive. The shape of the car has a lot of influence on the airflow around the car and, therefore, on the air resistance. The lower the air resistance, the less energy you need and the faster you can drive”, explains aerodynamics engineer Caterina Solombrino. “We expect that the new car will have an air resistance that is similar to that of a Grolsch beer bottle.

A new car and a new race

The students are facing an enormous challenge because of the corona pandemic. They are not only building a brand new solar car, they also had to look for an alternative race. The team was extremely disappointed when the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2021 was cancelled in February. The team did not give up, however, and had an alternative ready within three months: Solar Challenge Morocco. The students from Twente organised this new race in Morocco together with other solar teams, a race through the Sahara with a length of over 2,500 kilometres. 

This race in Morocco is the completely new, ultimate test for the RED Horizon. The car was initially designed for the flat Australian landscape. The differences in altitude are much greater in Morocco. The team will therefore have to make significant changes to their race strategy and course. Judith Tel, strategist and electrical engineer of Solar Team Twente: “The new route and the unknown landscape are a big challenge for the entire team. The design of Red Horizon’s electric motor will have to be revised. The race strategy has to be made from scratch, and we do not yet know what to expect. The evaluations of the previous races are a little less valuable now. Solar team Twente 2021 is going to be a pioneer in all aspects.

Sustainable future

The team wants to show what can be achieved with today’s knowledge and the right motivation, with the new RED Horizon car and the team’s ingenuity. The students want to inspire others to make a bigger contribution to the energy transition by using smart technology such as solar panels. Their message is aimed at both old and young generations. They are convinced that the EU’s climate targets are possible but that more attention needs to be paid to sustainable developments. “Make the impossible possible”, says the team.

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Date: 8 June 2021 |

Source of tekst: Solar Team Twente |

Author: Solar Team Twente