- In October the most prestigious race for solar cars, the World Solar Challenge, is held in Australia. Solar vehicles contribute to a sustainable future.
- Solar Team Twente has chosen to use a Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) solar panel. This panel is even more efficient than silicon, making it more sustainable.
“The new solar car by Solar Team Twente, RED E, is the smallest car we ever produced. This is made possible because we have chosen to use a Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) solar panel,” says Sybren Wubs, technical manager of Solar Team Twente. “This type of solar cell obtains the highest efficiencies in the field, making it a perfect fit for our car. It is not yet a common technique in our daily lives. However, it is the standard in the space industry.” The last time Solar Team Twente used GaAs, in 2009, the panel still had an area of 6 m2. According to the regulations of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2019, 2.64 m2 of GaAs cells may be on the solar car, for silicon this is 4 m2.
Because of the reduced solar cell surface area compared to previous years, the new car is a lot smaller than its predecessors. This improves aerodynamics, but also creates major challenges. “We further develop the mechanical and electronic parts of the car every two years, but this year the parts must also be a lot smaller. At first, this task seemed almost impossible. However, in the end, we realised a design that succeeded. We are proud of that,” says mechanic Evert van der Hoek. Team members Rob Kräwinkel and Koen Bologne explain the design choices on stage, as well as compromised between energy income and expenditures.
This year, Solar Team Twente is focusing more than ever on transparency and education. By sharing more knowledge and collaborating more, the team hopes to make an even greater contribution to a sustainable future. During the design presentation, the team revealed plans for a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), in which the techniques and work processes of the Red One (the 2015 solar car) are shared with the outside world. Team member Merel Oldenburg explains that the team wants to share as much as possible without being disadvantaged. It is the first time that a top team fully reveals all technical details of a solar car. The "How to build a solar car" course can be followed via FutureLearn starting this summer.
In addition to the technical and educational challenge, the team has a third mission: to keep talent in Twente. By acting as a bridge between (graduate) students and companies, they want to link talent to companies that are looking for talent.
John van der Vegt, chairman of the board of the ROC van Twente, underlines the importance of this mission on stage. “We need more technical students at all educational levels in Twente, and after education, they’re also much needed. Appealing initiatives such as Solar Team Twente are important, they make people interested in Twente.”
Annelies Dekker, team manager of Solar Team Twente, talked passionately about the business community in Twente during the design presentation. “In the past few months, I have experienced how difficult it can be for companies in Twente to recruit new employees. We decided to help our partners and sponsors, because who can better bridge between students and companies than a student team? Our partners and other companies from Twente will get a spot during our upcoming car presentation, and also we will develop more initiatives to help keep talent in our region.”