Foto: Hans-Peter van Velthoven en Jorrit Lousberg.
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Today, the Brunel Solar Team proudly unveils its latest solar racing car, Nuna 12. With modifications to the solar panel and battery, the Delft student team is targeting victory in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, the world solar racing championship in Australia. Despite the cut-throat competition, the team hopes to return the world cup to the Netherlands after several years of setbacks.

Despite previous victories, the Solar Team from Delft has faced several setbacks in recent years. “During our last race in Australia, which took place in 2019, Nuna X caught fire just before the finish line,” says Lennart Hessels, team captain of the current Brunel Solar Team. “The team had almost finished when our Belgian competitor ran off with the win. Everything the team had focused on for a year went up in flames.”

Two years later came another blow. The 2021 world championship, and the chance to win the cup back from the team from Leuven, remained out because of Covid-19. “The reality that we had no chance of winning again that year has put us on edge. This year, we will go to extremes to bring the cup back to Delft.”

‘Interplay of innovations and strategy’

Solar racing is all about all the different disciplines working together and ensuring that the technical innovations work well together. “We can only achieve this by having a joint focus as a team on the interplay of all the innovated components and the final strategy during the race,” said Lennart Hessels.

“We have access to new technologies that are sometimes not commercially available. This, of course, brings challenges, but it can also pay off. For example, our battery is almost fifty percent more energy dense than last year so we can store considerably more energy with the same weight. Also, this year our solar panel consists of multiple layers of materials, which allow sunlight to reflect into the cells and increase efficiency. By partially overlapping the cells, we can generate even more energy per square meter. If, through all these innovations, we manage to grab a little profit each time, we will become world champions.”

The team will now test Nuna 12 for a longer period ahead of the start of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge on 22 October in Australia. This involves more than 30 teams racing over 3,000 kilometers across the desert from Darwin (north) to Adelaide (south) in their self-built solar car in five days. The goal is to cross the finish line in as little time as possible.