UKZN underdogs to speed up in Oz
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.
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.