Solar cars TU Eindhoven excel at European Solar Challenge

The iLumen European Solar Challenge took place from Friday the 18th to Sunday the 20th of September on the Circuit Zolder racing track in Belgium. In the only 24-hour endurance race for Solar Cars, Stella Era and Stella Vie both aimed at the European title in the Cruiser Class. Not only is this challenge a great way to test the skills of the old teams, it was also an incredible opportunity to introduce the new team members to the intricacies of the trade.

After both cars passed Scrutineering on Thursday, the cars started Dynamic Parcour on Friday where Vie managed to beat Era. After this test, the biggest challenge started on Saturday at 13:00 where the cars lined up on the grid for the 24-hour race. The drivers all lined up in front of the solar cars for the Le Mans-style start. After the flag went down the drivers ran across the track and climbed into the solar cars.

Start of ESC2020

The Le Mans-style start at circuit Zolder for the European Solar Challenge 2020 – Photo by Bart van Overbeeke

We are proud to say Stella Vie drove off in first place, while Stella Era sped off in a respectable fourth place. Since the track was all clear in front of Stella Vie, it was decided to start off with a couple of hot laps without passengers. During these hot laps Stella Vie reached a top speed of 109 km/h on the straights. In the first couple of laps Stella Vie set a great fastest lap time that ended up being the third best lap-time of Vehicles from all classes. After this quick stint, Stella Vie also picked up two passengers and started cruising at a lower, more energy efficient speed. 

At the early stage of the race, Vie managed to build up a sizable margin on Era. However, Vie started to get some reliability issues and at night on Sunday Vie had to stop for four hours to change a component. During this stop, our Engineers did everything they could to get Vie driving as soon as possible, but during this time Era managed to overtake Vie in lap-count.

Maintenance on Vie

An engineer of the new team (Kevin van den Boom) working on Stella Vie – Photo by Bart van Overbeeke

When the sun came up both cars were up and running again. Vie had quite a challenge ahead of herself to catch up with Era who had been driving laps around the track for the entire time Vie was off the track. While in the last part of the race Vie started overtaking Era again, Era had gained such a large margin that it was impossible for Vie to make the race interesting again.

The Stella's crossing the finish line

Stella Vie (front) and Stella Era (back) after passing the finish line – Photo by Bart van Overbeeke

After completing 229 laps of racing at Circuit Zolder, Stella Era managed to cross the line as winner of the iLumen European Solar challenge in the Cruiser Class and Stella Vie obtained second place with 161 laps driven. After the race, Stella Era provided the grid with some Solar-powered snacks, after which the award ceremony started. The victory was celebrated with a spray of champagne after receiving the trophy.

Award ceremony ESC2020

The award ceremony – Photo by Bart van Overbeeke

In the Challenger Class, Agoria Solar Team’s Bluepoint obtained an impressive victory, with Solar Team Twente’s Red E coming in at second place and Top Dutch Solar Racing’s Green Lightning rounded up the podium at 3rd place. All results can be found here. We would like to thank all other teams for their enthusiasm and sportsmanship during the European Solar Challenge. Also, enormous gratitude goes out to the competition management, sponsors and all other parties involved for organizing this event.

Stella's in the pitlane after the race

The entire team in the pit lane after both cars have finished – Photo by Bart van Overbeeke

Self-driving charging station demonstrated today on the TU/e campus

Eindhoven – Today, the students of Solar Team Eindhoven have demonstrated the innovative features of the World Champion solar car Stella Era for the first time. After proving her efficiency at the World Solar Challenge in Australia, the team now demonstrates the energy sharing features that make her a ‘charging station on wheels’.

At the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2019 in Australia, Stella Era showed that she has a range of 1200 km, even in windy conditions. This range is rarely fully utilized in the Netherlands, where the average driving distance per day is 56 km. That is why Stella Era can share her energy with other electric vehicles. The technology that allows Stella Era to share her energy directly with another electric vehicle was demonstrated today in collaboration with Amber Mobility. This makes Stella Era a charging station on wheels.

Stella Era directly charges an Amber electric car. Photo by Bart van Overbeeke

In contrast to Australia, the sun is not always shining in the Netherlands. That is why Stella Era can autonomously, without a driver, chase the sun. Eight radars developed by NXP are located on every side of the car, which allows her to detect other objects and make a 360 degrees image of her surroundings. She has no dead corner.

A power socket allows you to make a cup of coffe on the go. Photo by Bart van Overbeeke

Also, the 230V power socket was demonstrated today in a camping trip setting. Stella Era’s energy can be used for all electric appliances. Stella Era is a safe and comfortable family car that can seat up to four people.

This week, a new team of 20 students of the Eindhoven University of Technology started their adventure to build a solar-powered vehicle. Their mission is to take the next step in developing sustainable solutions to societal challenges. Solar Team Eindhoven is excited to create a new solar-powered vehicle that will be a contribution to a more sustainable world!

Solar Team Eindhoven won the Cruiser Class of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in October 2019 for the fourth consecutive time. The solar car received the highest score on both the efficiency over the 3000 km through Australia and the practicality judgment.

20 students of the Eindhoven University of Technology have started this week as the new Solar Team Eindhoven. Photo by Bart van Overbeeke

Solar car TU Eindhoven wins World Solar Challenge for the fourth time in a row

Adelaide, October 20, 2019 – Solar Team Eindhoven from the Eindhoven University of Technology has won the first prize in the Cruiser Class of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC) for the fourth time in a row. We completed the more than 3,000-kilometer drive from Darwin to Adelaide with the highest efficiency score of all teams. Also on the assessment of the solar car by a professional jury, yesterday, we scored 93.1 points.

This makes us the consecutive winner of all editions of the Cruiser Class since it was founded in 2013. The class was introduced in 2013 to bridge the gap between the well-known World Solar Challenge and the use of cars in daily life. The new class was meant to close that gap and the innovations from the World Solar Challenge really find their way into the automotive sector. In the Cruiser Class not necessarily the fastest car wins, but the one that excels in efficiency, comfort, design and innovations.

Highest score for efficiency and innovation

We achieved a total score of 103.9 points, of which 111.7 points for efficiency and 93.1 for comfort and innovations. After we crossed the finish line on Friday at 11.30 a.m. (local time), we presented the practical utility, comfort and technical innovations on Saturday to a jury among which were Tesla and Lightyear. The practicality is particularly important because it weighs equally heavy as the efficiency score. With unique features such as autonomously chasing the sun and the sharing of solar energy with other electric cars, Solar Team Eindhoven with their four-person solar car, Stella Era, achieved great success.

Challenges

The team was extra euphoric because we had serious setbacks. For example, Stella Era arrived with a damaged solar panel in Darwin and we had problems with the electrical system two weeks before the start, the cause of which was initially unknown. Carijn Mulder, team manager, says: “Due to the setbacks in the preparation, we missed a lot of test days, so we were unsure of what awaited us during the Challenge.”

Moreover, the strong headwind on the longest stage of 1200 kilometers was quite a challenge. The team had to bridge that distance on a single battery charge. Solar Team Eindhoven was one of the two teams that completed this stage on time and they managed to avoid a time penalty.

Fourth victory

In her victory speech during the Award Ceremony, Carijn proudly spoke about the challenges the team has overcome. “It was certainly not obvious that we could become world champions for the fourth time. All challenges have kept the team sharp during the preparations and the race until the last moment. We are all very proud of our high scores and the victory ”.

The students drove at an average speed of almost 80 km/h and charged an additional 71.24 kWh over the entire distance via a charging station. For comparison: an ordinary electric car, without solar panels, has to charge about ten times as much energy.

Solar Team Eindhoven is close to fourth win at Bridgestone World Solar Challenge

Adelaide, Friday, October 18 – The Stella Era solar car from Eindhoven University of Technology has achieved the highest efficiency score of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge with 112 points. The students are well on their way to becoming the world champion for the fourth time in the passenger car class. The team has a considerable lead but can only officially take the world title home after the jury assessment on Saturday.

Difficult circumstances

In six days the only Dutch team in the Cruiser Class drove the distance of more than 3000 kilometers from North to South Australia. Along the way, the strong wind in particular was a major challenge, causing the team from Twente to stop their race in the Challenger class. The four-person solar car Stella Era was unable to drive with full occupancy, which meant that it received strong competition from the other solar cars in the Cruiser Class.

In contrast to previous editions, the teams were only allowed to charge their solar car twice at a normal charging station, producing the longest stage on a single battery charge of up to 1200 kilometers. As only one of the two solar cars, the team arrived at the checkpoint on time. The processed score was determined by the number of people-kilometers (kilometers traveled multiplied by the number of passengers carried) and the amount of energy used.

The students from Eindhoven have scored 112 points, twice as many points as the number two.

Stella Era bij finish World Solar Challenge
Students from Solar Team Eindhoven celebrating in the Adelaide fountain

Waiting for the official results

Carijn Mulder, team manager: “It feels fantastic to cross the finish line in no time! I am extremely proud of the team and our car, which we have worked very hard on for a year and a half. Due to quite a few setbacks, it was exciting in the last few weeks that we could finish the long stages at all. The team has been focused to the last minute and will also show what Stella Era has to offer during the jury assessment on Saturday. “

After the finish the teams are judged on the comfort and innovations of their solar car. “Stella Era was not only built for the World Solar Challenge, but mainly with the aim of developing a car that really gets the most out of the sun. We are confident that Stella Era, as a self-driving charging station, will also achieve a good score here.” Carijn said.

This Sunday at 12 A.M. (CET), the team will hear whether they take the world title home for the fourth time. In any case, TU Eindhoven is already very proud of the team’s performance so far.

World Solar Challenge met Stella Era - dag 6
Stella Era cruising around Port Augusta

Stella Era’s new solar panel arrives in Darwin thanks to partners and fans

Engineers open up the transport box with the new solar panel

27 September, Darwin – During transport from the Netherlands to Darwin part of the solar panel of Stella Era was damaged. Today, a new panel has arrived that will replace the damaged part. The custom-made panel is a crucial factor during the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge to gain enough solar energy to be able to cover the stages of the 3000 km route. Only because of the help of the team’s partners and fans the panel arrived on time to finish the preparations for the start on the 13th of October on time.

Inspecting the solar cells on visible inconsistencies

During the transport of the solar car to Australia, one of the solar panels was severely damaged by a wooden beam of the transport box. Stella Era’s solar roof consists of 5 m2 solar cells and is divided into multiple panels. The damaged panel happened to contain the highest-efficiency solar cells because of its location on the roof and was completely dysfunctional when it arrived in Darwin.

Today, with the help of partners and many supporters, a new custom-made solar panel arrived in Darwin. Carijn, team manager: “The team is incredibly thankful for the support we received, especially from our partners ING, Neways, and AAE and the people who contributed to our crowdfunding campaign. Our partners Wattlab and Meilink/IPS Technology also delivered incredible work by producing a new panel and a custom flight case on such short notice.”

Carijn: “Both the partners involved and our fans have been very supportive. It’s hard not to lose heart when something you’ve worked so hard on is put at risk by such bad luck. These people supported us and made it possible to finance, develop and transport one of the most important parts of the car. The team is ready to catch up and get ready for the challenge!”.

The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge starts on 13 October. In six days, the participating solar cars cover a distance of more than 3000 kilometers from Darwin to Adelaide. In the coming two weeks, the team will install the solar panel and validate its functioning through testing.

Solar car damaged during transport to Australia

Darwin, Australia – The solar car of Solar Team Eindhoven suffered considerable damage during the crossing from the Netherlands to Australia. Along the way a hole in the solar panel was caused by one of the wooden beams of the transport box. The damage jeopardizes the preparations of the ruling world champion for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. “Our motto is that there is a solution for every problem, but this will cost a lot of valuable time.”

BIG BLOW

The solar car of the Eindhoven students arrived in Darwin on 5 September. In Darwin, the starting place of the competition, the students of Eindhoven University of Technology will in the coming weeks make the final preparations for the world championship for solar cars.

“The planning was already very tight this year because we chose to develop additional innovations such as autonomous driving. In the coming weeks a lot has to be tested and the transport damage means that even less time remains. The fewer kilometers we can make, the smaller the chance of a reliable car.” says Marije Sesink, PR Manager.

“The roof of the car consists of several solar panels, which in turn consist of separate solar cells. The transport box in which the car was transported probably had such a big blow during transport that one of the beams broke through the sturdy protective cover of the solar panel and caused damage to one of those panels. “

A DISSAPOINTING REUNION

The students arrived in Darwin at the same time as the transport box and were looking forward to unpacking. Sesink explains: “The car has been on a journey of three weeks and went through multiple customs controls. We were eager to check whether everything would be the way we packed it up. However, it was already apparent from the outside of the transport box that she had had a hard time during the journey. “

The broken solar panel must be completely dismantled to subsequently investigate what can be reused. Niels Dirks, responsible for the solar panel, says: “Of course we have spare panels, but on this panel lay the solar cells that came out of our tests with the highest efficiency. By looking at whether we can save a number of cells and reassembling the panel, we hope that we will not have to compromise on what the panel will yield. “

PREPARATIONS

In the coming five weeks, the 4-seater will be extensively tested and the team will prepare for the jury assessment and the efficiency race. The team from Eindhoven participates with their “charging station on wheels” in the class for family cars. The team has established itself in an office building with a workshop that is made available by a local partner. The transport box with solar car was delivered here.

BEAT THE DUTCH

Solar Team Eindhoven defends the world title in the Cruiser Class of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. The participating teams cover a distance of more than 3000 kilometers from north to south Australia.

The Cruiser Class, where efficiency and application for daily use are concerned, is the counterpart of the Challenger Class, where speed is concerned. The competition starts on October 13 in Darwin and ends on October 20 in Adelaide. The team hopes to win the world title for the fourth time this year.

A financial setback comes with the transport damage. With their crowdfunding campaign, the team hopes to get enough to repair all damage.

New solar car Stella Era is the world’s first ‘charging station on wheels’

Today, the 4th of July, Solar Team Eindhoven presented its new solar car Stella Era. Thanks to its solar paneled roof, this car contains enough energy to theoretically cover a distance of 1800 kilometers; it can also share its abundance of solar energy with other electric vehicles directly. According to the student team at TU/e, this makes it the world’s first charging station on wheels. On top of this, the car has self-driving functions, such as the ability to autonomously search for sunny parking spaces. This is the car that the Eindhoven team will be using to defend its world title during the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia in October.

“We’re presenting not only a new solar car but a new era: an era in which cars are not energy consumers but energy sources. That’s why we call her Stella Era,” says Carijn Mulder, team manager of Solar Team Eindhoven. The team presented its fourth family car today, following in the footsteps of predecessors Stella (2013), Stella Lux (2015) and Stella Vie (2017).

Photo by Bart van Overbeeke

AN ENORMOUS CHALLENGE

“If we want to drive emission-free in 2030, as stated in the Dutch climate agreement, around 200 charging stations will have to be installed in the Netherlands every day from now on in order to provide all electric cars with energy by then,” Mulder says. “This is already unrealistic, and 85% of electricity currently comes from non-renewable sources. In short, our society is facing an enormous challenge.”

According to the students, the solution is to use cars as moving charging stations. Stella Era has a range of 1200 kilometers with four occupants, according to the standard European calculation for the range of electric cars. The distance that the students hope to travel by car during the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge will be as much as 1800 kilometers. The average distance that motorists travel each day in the Netherlands is around 50 kilometers, leaving a large part of the energy available.

AUTONOMOUS SUNBATHING

In addition, the car takes the weather forecast and the kilometers still to be traveled into account, accurately determining how much energy it has left to share. The Stella App, developed by the team, allows the owner to sell valuable solar energy to other electric cars.

Another striking new feature of the car is that Stella Era uses autonomous functions to drive itself to a sunny parking space, allowing it to be recharged throughout the day. “Stella Era is a car that always gets the most out of the sun, even without a driver – a car that looks for the sunniest spot in the parking lot itself. As a result, Stella Era is not just a solar car but also an autonomous source of energy,” says Mick van der Spoel, project manager of the student team.

Is this car going to get the world title to Eindhoven for the fourth consecutive time? Photo: Bart van Overbeeke

TO SPAIN ON A SINGLE BATTERY CHARGE

The latest Stella has a much greater range than the average electric car. This is due to the fact that the energy yield of the five square meters of solar panels has been increased while the energy consumption has been reduced.

“Aerodynamics, weight and electrical efficiency are all important for low energy consumption. We’ve greatly improved the electrical efficiency this year by developing the complete powertrain ourselves. What is currently on the market just doesn’t meet the requirements for a solar car,” says Van der Spoel.

It’s for this reason that the team has designed and built the complete powertrain, from the Battery Management System to the electric motors and from A to Z in just 10 months. As a result, Stella Era can travel more than four times as far with a battery pack similar in size to that of a today’s average electric family car, even without sunshine.

BEAT THE DUTCH

In October, the Eindhoven team will defend its world title during the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia. During the world championship for solar cars, in which 50 teams from all over the world participate, the students have to cover a distance of 3022 km. Solar Team Eindhoven is the only Dutch team that is participating in the family car class.

Van der Spoel explains: “In contrast to previous years, we are only allowed to charge twice, with the largest distance between two charging points being 1200 km. And because we want to cross the finish line even in the rain and with a headwind, we built this car so that it can cover that distance on one battery charge, even when the sun isn’t shining.”

Milestone: start van productie

Na een half jaar brainstormen, ontwerpen, en keuzes maken is het eindelijk zover: de bouw van de zonneauto is gestart! Op vrijdag 15 maart werd het startschot gegeven voor de productie van een auto die de missie van Solar Team Eindhoven 2019 belichaamt; een auto die door het optimaal benutten van zonne-energie de transitie naar duurzame mobiliteit versnelt.

Opening productie op Brainport Industries Campus (BIC)

Partners en genodigden werden ontvangen op de gloednieuwe productielocatie op de Brainport Industries Campus in Eindhoven. Carlo van de Weijer, hoofd van de Strategic Area Mobility, en Ton Backx, hoogleraar Electrical Engineering, van de Technische Universiteit Eindhoven legden samen met teamleden de eerste laag koolstofvezel van de nieuwe auto. Hiermee werd het startsein gegeven om het ontwerp waar het team al ruim een half jaar aan werkt, tot uitvoering te brengen.

De milestone is extra bijzonder omdat het de eerste Eindhovense zonneauto is die daadwerkelijk volledig in Eindhoven wordt geproduceerd. Vorige teams moesten door gebrek aan faciliteiten voor meerdere maanden afreizen naar het noorden van het land. Dankzij de samenwerking met de Brainport Industries Campus en SDK Vastgoed blijft het team dicht bij huis. Het enige wat ontbrak was een oven groot genoeg om de mallen van wel vijf meter lang in af te bakken. Daardoor bouwt Solar Team Eindhoven inmiddels niet meer alleen zonneauto’s, maar ook ovens.

De meer dan vijf meter lange oven die het team heeft geïnstalleerd voor de grote mallen.

Mick van der Spoel en Evan Quadvlieg, de projectmanager en technisch acquisitie manager van het vierde Solar Team Eindhoven, verwelkomden vrijdag de aanwezigen: “Sommigen van jullie zijn al sinds 2012 betrokken bij het project, anderen sluiten nu aan met het volle vertrouwen in wat er nog gaat komen. Maar wat gaat er dan nog komen?”. Het team heeft voor 2019 grote doelen gesteld, die worden vormgegeven door twee belangrijke factoren; de veranderingen in de regels van de Bridgestone World Solar Challenge en de doelstellingen voor 2030 die in het klimaatakkoord staan. Met de nieuwe zonneauto willen wij niet alleen de wereldtitel verlengen, maar bovenal een concept neerzetten voor het behalen duurzame mobiliteit in 2030.

De doelen voor 2019 geven de teamleden een enorme hoeveelheid motivatie. In slechts vier maanden maken we van het ontwerp een zonneauto die laat zien wat er in de toekomst mogelijk is voor duurzame mobiliteit. Op 4 juli onthullen we de zonneauto en haar features.

Van links naar rechts: Arjen, Katelijn, Gijs en Luc met twee van de kleinere mallen.

Solar Team Eindhoven bouwt nieuwe zonneauto op de Brainport Industries Campus

Eindhoven, 28 januari 2019

Photo: Bram Saeys; BIC Brainport Industries Campus; Ferdinand Gremmen (SdK), TU/e Solar Team Eindhoven

De nieuwe gezinsauto op zonne-energie van Solar Team Eindhoven gaat geproduceerd worden op de gloednieuwe Brainport Industries Campus (BIC). De studenten krijgen een plek in de zogenoemde ‘fabriek van de toekomst’, waar ze 1 maart 2019 de bouw van de vierde innovatieve zonnewagen starten.

Een deel van de studenten van Solar Team Eindhoven zal het kantoor op de campus van de TU/e inruilen voor een werkplaats op de BIC. Het team dat bestaat uit 27 studenten is sinds september bezig met het ontwerpen van een nieuwe gezinsauto op zonne-energie, waarmee ze in oktober 2019 aan de start van de Bridgestone World Solar Challenge verschijnen. Voor het realiseren van het ontwerp gaat het team een unieke samenwerking met de BIC aan; de plek waar innovatieve hightech bedrijven en instanties krachten bundelen. De zonneauto zal dus voor het eerst geheel in Eindhoven geproduceerd worden, wat voor de studenten veel voordelen oplevert. 

Meer dan een productielocatie

Het enorme gebouw van de BIC biedt niet alleen voldoende ruimte voor het bouwen van een zonneauto, maar biedt volgens Carijn Mulder ook volop kansen. “We zijn bijvoorbeeld bezig met het opzetten van samenwerkingen met studenten van het Summa Collega voor freeswerk en Engie ondersteunt ons bij het inrichten van de werkplek. Juist het feit dat op de BIC faciliteiten, kennis en de drive om te innoveren samenkomen maakt het voor ons een ideale plek om onze droom te realiseren.”

Product van een ecosysteem

Ferdinand Gremmen, SDK Vastgoed, ontwikkelaar van de BIC, verwelkomt de studenten: “Dat het Solar Team Eindhoven naar de BIC komt is geweldig nieuws. De auto die door het team gebouwd wordt is een perfect voorbeeld van high mix, high complexity, low volume, waarbij innovatie voorop staat.”

“Dit is eigenlijk precies waar de Brainport Industries Campus als ‘Fabriek van de Toekomst’ voor staat. En dat brengt de komst van het team écht tot leven. Bovendien sturen we erop aan dat de andere campusbewoners met hun kennis, kunde en expertise mee gaan denken. Op die manier wordt de auto die in oktober aan de start zal staan in Australië een product van ons ecosysteem.”

Geen vanzelfsprekendheid

Een duurzame, bereikbare en comfortabele productielocatie is geen vanzelfsprekendheid voor het studententeam. Vorige teams hebben in barre omstandigheden in alle uithoeken van het land aan de auto gebouwd. Carijn Mulder: “We hebben een oven ter grootte van een zeecontainer nodig en die zijn niet makkelijk te vinden, vandaar dat voor de productie van de Stella Vie een aantal teamleden wekenlang in een stacaravan hebben geleefd. Een productieplek in Eindhoven is ontzettend belangrijk voor het verbeteren van het teamproces.”