27 September 2016 – On the fourth day of the SASOL Solar Challenge in South Africa, the students from Delft University of Technology encountered their biggest challenge of the week: a stage full of mountains. The team had to pull all their strings to climb a total of 1500 meters. Next to that, the Dutch team tries to keep their 100 km lead on the Japanese team from Tokai University.
Yesterday, at the end of the third race day, the Nuon Solar Team had to conquer quite a lot of challenges already. Windgusts, lightning and heavy raining made it very tough for all the competing teams to keep their cars on the road and reach the finish of the third stage of the SASOL Solar Challenge. The students of Delft University of Technology had to pass a major car accident, where a car was taken by the wind and landed on its roof. All the solar cars eventually reached the finish safely in Gariepdam and the Nuon Solar Team kept their lead.
Today, the Nuon Solar Team is already halfway through the eight day solar race from Pretoria to Cape Town. After passing many highways, the mountains and the height difference that comes along with the mountains are next up for the Nuon Solar Team. Mechanical Engineer Pim Wubben from the Nuon Solar Team explains why this height difference is such a problem for their solar car Nuna: “Driving up a mountain forces the engine to work extra hard. Even though Nuna weighs just one sixth of a normal car, the extra power that the engine has to deliver could cause overheating. When we go downhill again, we have to break to slow the car down. We use regenerative breaking, which can be seen as a dynamo, where the engine tries to recover as much energy from breaking. This again, will heat up the engine a lot, so we have to watch out. At 120 degrees Celsius, the isolation around the engine will melt, causing a dangerous situation.”