Solar Team Twente uses more efficient solar panels

Mar

21

2019

Solar Team Twente uses more efficient solar panels for a new solar car

The Solar Team Twente has unveiled the design of the new solar car Red E for the Challenger class of the World Solar Challenge in October. The most important change is the type of solar panel; this year the team is using GaAs solar panels instead of silicon panels.

According to the team, the GaAs solar cell is currently the most efficient type. However, this efficiency gain has a price, because where the rules of the World Solar Challenge allow a maximum of 4 m² of silicon panels, the limit for the GaAs panels is 2.64 m² . That is why the Red E is also the smallest car that the team has developed to date, writes Solar Team Twente.

“Nevertheless, the panels are so efficient and the aerodynamics are of a higher level, so this is better,” Jasper de Groote tells Tweakers. According to De Groote, the same discussion between the GaAs or silicon panels also took place during the previous race in 2017. “At that time, we still doubted whether these panels were better. Now, however, we have been able to apply different calculations, so that we are sure. Therefore that we are now applying the panels. ”

The team does not want to reveal how much smaller the car is compared to previous years. Also specifications about, for example, the engine or the panels remain secret for the time being. “But we have every confidence in it. We are ready for the game and to go for the win.”

However, the smaller car did cause the team a problem. Although the team continues to develop the mechanical and electronic components for each race, there was a fear that the components could not be made small enough for the small car this year. “But in the end we realized a design that succeeded”, says mechanic Evert van der Hoek in the news article.

Although the team doesn’t want to give much about the new car yet, they will reveal a lot about an earlier solar car. The techniques and work processes of Red One, the solar car for the 2015 edition, are shared via a public online course.

“Thirty teams are taking part in the challenge, so we want to be able to help the other teams,” says De Groote. “That way we can innovate together and work on a better solar car. They get a glimpse into our working method and maybe can take it to their own vehicle. We also want to write it down in a fairly accessible way so that people with less technical knowledge can also understand it It will be a bit of a “build solar car for dummies.” The ‘How to build a solar car’ course can be followed from FutureLearn this summer.

The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge will be held this year from 13 to 20 October. Participating teams start in Darwin, Australia, and drive three thousand kilometers to the southern Adelaide. With the Red E, the Solar Team Twente is taking part in the Challenger class, with the intention of driving those three thousand kilometers as quickly as possible.

Solar Team Twente Red E
A scale model of the Red E, photo by Martina Ketelaar

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