UKZN un­der­dogs to speed up in Oz

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - AL­WYN VILJOEN • al­wyn.viljoen@wit­ness.co.za

THE bi­en­nial Bridge­stone World So­lar Chal­lenge in south Aus­tralia will this year see the first en­try from Africa.

A team of 13 stu­dents and lec­tur­ers from the Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) School of En­gi­neer­ing will com­pete against 47 teams from 25 coun­tries around the world.

Co-team man­ager Kirsty Veale said the South African team will com­pete in the Chal­lenger class, which she likened to the F1 of so­lar car rac­ing.

Mas­ters stu­dent Matthew Woods said they will be us­ing the same car that set a record in the na­tional 2014 Sa­sol So­lar Chal­lenge and set dis­tance records for the Olympia Class. Woods was one of the team who spent a fran­tic night fix­ing a burnt bat­tery sys­tem in the 2014 race and can look back with pride how their car, then called the Hu­lamin-iKlwa, still proved fast enough to set two records.

With a bit of luck, Woods said the new car should be good enough for a top 10 po­si­tion, us­ing a 2 kW Mit­suba hub­wheel, 20 kg of small Pana­sonic lithium bat­ter­ies that they packed “just like Tesla does” and spe­cial so­lar car wheels from Sch­walbe, pumped to eight bar.

Co-team man­ager Dr Clint Be­mont said the new so­lar car is 250 kg lighter than iKlwa, thanks to new alu­minium sheets from Hu­lamin in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, and thanked the alu­minium gi­ant for its vi­sion to en­ter the World So­lar Chal­lenge.

Hu­lamin group mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Nomaswazi Kany­ile said alu­minium was both durable and light enough to meet any car’s needs, which is why it is used in cars from Ford’s new F250 pick-up to Tesla’s elec­tric cars and of course, the Hu­lamin so­lar car.

This year’s Bridge­stone World So­lar Chal­lenge will be held in Aus­tralia from Oc­to­ber 18 to 25. The teams will race 3 000 km across Aus­tralia, start­ing at Dar­win and end­ing at Ade­laide.

Veale ad­mits the UKZN team will be very much the un­der­dogs Down Un­der, but she is con­fi­dent they can place sev­enth in the world, de­spite hav­ing a team that is half the size and a bud­get that is up to 100 times smaller than those of the top 10 univer­sity teams.

“The car has al­ready shown its speed, we’ve made it even lighter and we’ve kept part of the orig­i­nal team, all of which place us in a strong po­si­tion to com­pete,” Veale said.

PHOTO: RA­JESH JANTILAL/UKZN

En­gi­neer­ing stu­dents of the Col­lege of Agri­cul­ture, En­gi­neer­ing and Science at the Univer­sity of KwaZu­luNatal (UKZN) of­fi­cially launched the Hu­lamin So­lar Car at the UKZN on July 15, 2015, in Dur­ban. The so­lar car, the first en­trant from, Africa will be tak­ing part in the 2015 World So­lar Chal­lenge be­ing held in Aus­tralia from Oc­to­ber 18 to 25.

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