Nineteen engineering students from KU Leuven presented their new car powered entirely by solar energy, which they have designed, produced and assembled in just one year. In October, they will compete in the world championship of solar cars in Australia.
Effective and innovative
The BluePoint, the eighth Belgian solar car, is also the most aerodynamic car ever designed in Belgium. To achieve as little air resistance as possible, the shape of the car has continued to improve for six months. “We are proud of the result. To travel the 3,000 kilometers of the race across Australia, the BluePoint should consume the equivalent of 7 liters of diesel according to calculations,” says Emmerick Vandervelpen, aerodynamic engineer of the Agoria Solar Team.
In addition to improvements in aerodynamics, BluePoint also introduces some innovations. This is the first time that students have developed the solar panel themselves. So far, the Belgian Solar Team had always bought this panel. Making it itself has allowed the team to better control the production process. This year, they selected the appropriate photovoltaic cells, connected them together and covered them with a protective layer. Photovoltaic cells are extremely fragile, which makes the process particularly delicate. Nelis Geurts, head of the solar panel within the team: “Photovoltaic cells are much more efficient than those you see on rooftops in your street. These cells are also those used on satellites and their total cost is the price of a Lamborghini. ”
With a surface area of 2.6 m², the solar panel of the BluePoint is as large as that of the previous car, the Punch 2. The new car is narrower, which implies a lower resistance to air but also less space for mechanical components. Thus, the space between the wheels and the body of the car is only a few millimeters in some places. The pilot has less room to move. “To avoid unnecessary wasted space, the car was literally made to fit me. My hips and shoulders fit perfectly in the cabin, “says Inge Habets, Solar Team pilot.
World Championship in Australia
On October 13, the Belgian solar car will be at the start of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. This is the solar car world championship, in which the BluePoint will travel 3,021 kilometers through the Australian desert. No less than 53 student teams from around the world have registered for this edition, a record!
After winning the third place in 2017 and the first place after an extreme race last year in Chile, the Belgian team is more determined than ever to cross the finish line in first position this year. “The whole team gave the maximum for a year. Today, we are ready for the world championship and we are aiming for first place in Australia, “concludes Willem-Jan Claes, team leader of the Agoria Solar Team.