For an entire year, a dedicated group of 20 engineering students collaborated on this remarkable milestone project. This awe-inspiring solar car is set to represent KU Leuven at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia this October, the prestigious world championship for solar cars. EnergyVille also played a role in this project. To start with, the Innoptus team used a solar simulator from EnergVille (after being well-trained to use the tool) to check the power for every solar cell they had received from their supplier. The solar simulator had to be adapted for the cells, since the correct measurement of these highly efficient back contact cells required the use of a special measuring chuck. The power check was done to make sure that only the best cells would be used in the solar modules for the car. Afterwards, the Innoptus team utilised the solar module laminator at EnergyVille to laminate the best high-efficiency solar cells inside solar modules to be used on their solar car.
Energized by innovation, the team’s focus for this edition of the World Championship centered on enhancing the car’s energy efficiency. They made significant optimizations to the motor and battery pack, pushing the boundaries of available technology. The team’s self-designed battery pack now allows the car to travel approximately 900 kilometers, even in the absence of direct sunlight. This remarkable feat equates to a journey from Brussels to the south of France – a 200-kilometer increase compared to the autonomy of their previous solar car.
In addition to their achievements in battery technology, the team emphasized in-house production of the motor, resulting in an immensely efficient drive capable of reaching top speeds of 170 km/h. Stan Kelchtermans, the 25-year-old Electrical Engineer at Innoptus Solar Team, proudly shared, “After extensive research and optimization of the production process, we have managed to build a motor with higher efficiency than those used by Tesla.“
Pushing the limits
The team members also continued to work on a groundbreaking design feature known as the “fin”. Strategically located on the car’s cockpit, the fin unfolds during crosswinds, enabling the car to sail with the wind and consume up to four times less energy. This ingenious addition, a first-time application in Australia, could provide a significant competitive edge for the Belgian team.
Notably, the Infinite has undergone meticulous mechanical optimizations, making it the narrowest Belgian solar car ever, with even sleeker aerodynamics. These improvements result in reduced energy consumption and the capability for faster speeds during the race. The team dedicated extensive effort to refining the car’s mechanical design, achieving its slim and efficient profile.
Defending the World Title
With the grand unveiling completed, the solar car will undergo rigorous testing in Belgium before embarking on the arduous 3,021-kilometer journey from Darwin to Adelaide in Australia. The route takes the teams through the vast and challenging Australian Outback, where they will strive to complete the course as swiftly as possible. Last time, the Belgians secured victory, and this year they aim to defend their title against formidable international teams, including strong contenders from the Netherlands, the United States, and Japan. The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge will unfold from October 22 to 29, promising thrilling competition and groundbreaking advancements in solar-powered mobility.