- Sustainable energy can potentially change lives, economies and the environment.
- Solar Team Twente contributes to solutions for sustainable management with the development of its new RED E solar car.
Solar Team Twente presented their voyage of discovery, leading to this major milestone of the 2019 team. Various team members shared their experiences and the difficulties they encountered while designing and producing the solar car. “The moment of extracting the car from the mould was exciting. Only then we truly realized how the car turned out to be. It is so small! Of course, this was known beforehand, but you only realize when it is in front of you,” says Mariska Bos, responsible for the aerodynamics of the car. “The car being so small is great for aerodynamics, as the car has as much resistance as a coke can.”
After the intimate glimpse of the team, the RED E was unveiled. Drumband United Caribbean Rhythm Machine (UCRM) led an impressive drum show that gave goosebumps, leading up to the unveiling as the climax. “Everything converged during the unveiling: the team, solar car, partners and the supporters. We were extremely proud when we were standing on stage. Finally, we could show the world what we have been working on so hard”, says Sybren Wubs, technical manager. “It was not easy to get to this moment, especially the planning was tense. Will we be able to get the car painted in time? Will the technicians have sufficient assembly time? Will all parts arrive on time? I’m glad it all worked out and that we could proudly present the eighth solar car of Solar Team Twente today!”
In an interactive museum that was built specifically for this event, visitors could discover the solar car in more detail. For example, in the mechatronics section, tests were performed with carbon and it was explained how much air resistance the solar car has. In the electronics section, the inside of the car was explained, as well as how it is possible to drive on solar energy. “By making comparisons with everyday products, people better understand the electronics of the car. For example, when our car is driving 80 km/h it consumes as much energy as a sandwich maker. A cool comparison, right?”, says electronic engineer Rob Kräwinkel proudly.
Once again, the solar car from Twente is a technological masterpiece. RED E is a lot smaller than the previous car, this is driven by the switch to GaAs solar cells. This type of cell is usually used in the aerospace industry. Instead of 4m2 for silicon cells, only 2.64m2 of GaAs cells were required. This noticeably affected the length of our car, as now the nose is missing. To be precise, the car is 1.5m2 smaller than the previous version. This also meant that all components needed to be a lot smaller and placed more efficiently to still be able to fit in the car. A great example is the wheel suspension, which is now based on the suspension systems used in Formula E.
The electrical engineers also made big steps. Solar Team Twente will, for the very first time, drive its car with their in-house developed Motor Control Unit (MCU). The MCU is responsible for correctly controlling the motor. The development of this MCU was started by the previous team in collaboration with partner 3T and engineered to a final product. This long-term collaboration resulted in a beautiful innovation, applicable in both the industry and our solar car.
Before the car presentation, Solar Team Twente organized the event Fully Charged, once again fulfilling its role in bridging the gap between students and companies in the region. Team manager Annelies Dekker: “Many of our partners are from the Twente region and have a hard time gathering graduated students. Solar Team Twente aims to improve the relationship between young talent like us, and the partners and companies from the region. The goal of Fully Charged was to have the students meet and get to now companies. Those meetings resulted in great experiences. Over 30 companies got in contact with over 100 students of which over 75 students partook in workshops and speed dates organized by the companies.”