Brunel Solar Team unveils groundbreaking solar car4 July 2023
This week the Brunel Solar Team unveiled their new solar car Nuna 12. The team will participate in the Bridgestone Solar Challenge in Australia later this year, driving from Darwin to Adelaide over more than 3000 km. AOC is proud to sponsor the team, providing the composites materials for making the Nuna 12, production advice, and hands-on support.
Despite previous victories, the Solar Team from Delft has faced various challenges in recent years. "During our last race in Australia, which took place in 2019, Nuna X caught fire just before the finish," says Lennart Hessels, team captain of the current Brunel Solar Team. "The team was very close to the finish when our Belgian competitor took the win. Everything the team had focused on for a whole year literally went up in flames."
Two years later, another blow came. The 2021 World Solar Challenge, and thus the opportunity to win back the cup from the team from Leuven, was canceled due to Covid-19. "The reality that we had no chance of winning again that year has sharpened our focus. We will go to the extreme to bring the cup back to Delft this year."
Raising the bar every year
With the return of the World Solar Challenge comes fierce competition. "We have never raced against so many other teams," adds the team captain. "We are not only competing against the reigning world champions, our country neighbors in the South, but also against two other Dutch teams and about 30 additional teams from around the world. For example, the team from Michigan in the U.S. consists of 100 team members, compared to 18 team members in our team. The Japanese team also improves every year, and they may show up with a brand new car concept after four years absence. So, the bar keeps getting higher every year."
Combination of innovation and strategy
In solar racing, it is crucial for all different team disciplines to work together, for technical innovations to align seamlessly. "This can only be achieved by focusing together on the interplay of all new innovative components and the ultimate driving strategy during the race," says Lennart Hessels.
The team has access to several brand new technologies, which sometimes are even not yet commercially available. This naturally brings its challenges, but it can also pay off in a good way. For example, the battery of Nuna 12 is nearly 50% more energy-dense than last year, allowing to store significantly more energy with the same weight.
This year the solar panel consists of multiple layers of materials that enable sunlight to reflect into the cells, thereby increasing efficiency. By partially overlapping the cells, even more energy per square meter van be generated. “If we can gain a slight advantage through all these innovations, we surely will become world champion again", Lennart concludes.
Bridgestone World Solar Challenge
The team will now conduct extensive testing of Nuna 12 in preparation for the start of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge on October 22nd in Australia. More than 30 teams will race their self-built solar cars over 3,000 kilometers through the desert from Darwin in the North to Adelaide in the South over five days. The goal is to reach the finish line in the shortest possible time.