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Bristol’s solar-car racing team completes route-reconnaissance trip for Bridgestone World Solar Challenge

– Solar Team Great Britain uses real-world-conditions data to fine tune each element of vehicle to optimise efficiency when racing across 3,022km journey.

Solar Team Great Britain, which is developing a solar race car and aims to be the first British team to win the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, has completed a data-collection mission to generate real-world-conditions information on the 3,022km race route from Darwin, Australia to Adelaide.

The testing took place one year ahead of the race to give data on environmental conditions likely to match those encountered during the race. Equipment used measured the wind speed / direction, ambient temperature, relative humidity, ambient pressure, solar panel temperature, solar irradiance, and vibration; mapping each to a GPS coordinate.

The team will use this information and develop the car using a Cray® CS400™ cluster supercomputer at Bristol’s Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS).

Computational fluid dynamic modelling of an early prototype by Solar Team Great Britain. The team will have to contend with gusts between 50 and 90km/h and temperatures over 40 degrees – designs will need to contend with these to keep efficiencies high

The three-man team consisted of Beth Georgiou, who has run the Formula Student motor racing event for two years and now manages Evodays, which focuses on all-electric automotive, motorsport and technology; Sam Walder, a third year PhD student at the University of Bristol specialising in ultra high performance power conversion; Max Phillips, a graduate engineer from Atkins who provides Systems Engineering Support to the MoD and has an masters in Aeronautics & Astronautics.

Georgiou said: “Our setup will enable STGB to better understand the environment in which the Solar Car will be required to operate. For example our wind sensor, which uses four ultrasonic microphones to measure speed and direction, is providing the team with data to show the gusting we can expect on the open plains and from road trains, while our sample panels provide temperature data which the team can use, along with solar irradiance, to estimate the performance of different solar panels over the course of the challenge.

Walder said: “The collection of accurate data is informing the exact operating conditions of the car and its systems throughout the race. This allows our designers to tune each element of the car to operate at peak performance under exactly the right conditions. This will mean big efficiency improvements as well as making sure that the robustness of the car is well in line with what will be required for the journey.

The race’s halfway point is Alice Springs, the nearest big town to Uluru (Ayers Rock), (pictured) temperatures reach over 40oC, cooling will be needed to maintain solar conversion efficiencies

 

Team Principal, Steven Heape commented, “We’re seeking to be one of the most-advanced and best-prepared teams racing in this category and this trip plays a key role in our preparations. Literally tens of thousands of data points have been collected on the trip and this will all feed into the supercomputer designs.

The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge begins in October 2017 and sees cars race 3,022 km across the Australian desert, from Darwin to Adelaide. 2017 will be the race’s 30th anniversary.

Solar Team Great Britain is a brand new team and is led by Steven Heape, engineer and renewable energy specialist. The team brings together additional design and engineering experts from organisations including the University of Bristol, the University of Bath, Airbus, Higher Education Funding Council for England, Institution of Mechanical Engineers and QinetiQ – showcasing the very best of British engineering skills and innovation.

Solar Team Great Britain will race in the Cruiser Class category, where the winner must balance not just speed but practicality and energy efficiency. Key success factors such as payload and energy efficiency will be key considerations applicable to aerodynamic performance. The 2013 event saw a four-seater family car travel the route with an external energy consumption of only 64 kWh. In comparison, a modern family car consumes around 56mpg and will have an energy consumption of approximately 5,000kWh.

The race goes over the long, flat dusty roads of the Central Australian Desert, where high winds can build. Wind speeds at Alice Springs have reached 174km/h.

Key stages:
5th June 2016 – World Solar Challenge announce 2017 regulations document
October 2016 – recon trip to analyse the route
January 2017 – design complete and production commences
31 March 2017 – closing date for entries
April 2017 – prototype ready for testing
July 2017 – car shipped to Australia
8th October 2017 – race begins, with the winning cars expected on the 12th October

UK solar car racing team signs CFMS as strategic sponsor, gets access to Cray supercomputer for car design modelling

– Aerodynamics modelled using computational fluid dynamics – cuts testing from days to minutes

 The UK based solar racing team, Solar Team Great Britain, that is aiming to be the first British team to win the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, has today announced it has signed the Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS), a specialist in high value design capability, as a strategic sponsor.

The sponsorship will also give Solar Team Great Britain access to CFMS’s state-of-the-art Cray® CS400™ cluster supercomputer, which will be used to speed the design and simulation of the solar powered car.

Aerodynamic modelling of the solar car

Steven Heape commented, “We’re seeking to be one of the most advanced teams racing in this category and the backing of CFMS plays a key role in this. The team was last week in Australia collecting tens of thousands of data points about the conditions the team will face in a year’s time, and this will also be used in modelling the car to create the perfect design to cope with these.”

The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge begins in October 2017 and sees cars race 3,022 km across the Australian desert, from Darwin to Adelaide. The team will be competing in the Cruiser Class category for multi-seat vehicles. 2017 will be the race’s 30th anniversary.

Solar Team Great Britain is a brand new team and is led by Steven Heape, engineer and renewable energy specialist. The team brings together additional design and engineering experts from organisations including the University of Bristol, the University of Bath, Airbus, Higher Education Funding Council for England, Institution of Mechanical Engineers and QinetiQ – showcasing the very best of British engineering skills and innovation.

Sam Paice, Chief Operating Officer, CFMS commented, “We are delighted to support Solar Team Great Britain in its quest to compete in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, working with them to develop and accelerate new technology such as solar energy through the use of advanced modelling and simulation and high performance computing.

Steven Heape also commented, “The wider vision of the project involves inspiring a new generation of engineers and young professionals to apply talents in sustainability and to encourage the development of vehicles that incorporate solar technology.

Solar Team Great Britain will race in the Cruiser Class category, where the winner must balance not just speed but practicality and energy efficiency. Key success factors such as payload and energy efficiency will be key considerations applicable to aerodynamic performance. The 2013 event saw a four-seater family car travel the route with an external energy consumption of only 64 kWh. In comparison, a modern family car consumes around 56mpg and will have an energy consumption of approximately 5,000 kWh.

Key stages:
5th June 2016 – World Solar Challenge announce 2017 regulations document
October 2016 – recon trip to analyse the route
January 2017 – design complete and production commences
31 March 2017 – closing date for entries
April 2017 – prototype ready for testing
July 2017 – car shipped to Australia
8th October 2017 – race begins, with the winning cars expected on the 12th October

Image library

All images are free to use for press use provided an image credit is given as per the below. Each of the below links to a higher-resolution version for use in both print and online.

 
  

Image 1: The Solar Team Great Britain, taken in Millenium Square Bristol. Team founder / Manager Steven Heape is third from left – image credit STGB
Image 2: Route map – image credit: Hideki Kimura
Image 3 / 4 : 2015 Cruiser class winner from Eindhoven University of Technology – image credit: Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2015 & Bart Van Overbeeke for Eindoven photos.
Image 5: 2013 Challenger class winner from Delft University of Technology – image credit: GTHO
Image 6: Solar Team Great Britain logo – image credit: STGB

Press contacts

Fourteen Communications: Rob Ashwell – – 07800 515 001

Adding solar to UK electric cars would give up to 1,500 miles per year of free driving on today’s technology.

– Analysis by Solar Team Great Britain race team coincides with start of European Solar Challenge race

The European Solar Challenge – the first 24 race for solar cars, held on the former F1 circuit in Zolder, north Belgium – starts today.

One of the race’s key aims is to encourage car-company innovation and lead to more efficient, less environmentally destructive vehicles.

CUER’s teardrop design – credit European Solar Challenge

The EU has estimated over 500,000 Europeans a year may be dying from conditions related to air pollution, with vehicle emissions being a significant factor in this. A US study similarly showed that cutting emissions from transport and energy generation would cut 300,000 US deaths.

Diesel exhausts account for 70% of particulates in London, meaning the move to electric vehicles are essential in large cities. But it is in these, where garages are less prevalent, that it is harder to charge vehicles at home.

Could solar be an answer, even in the UK?
Yes, according to analysis by engineers from Solar Team Great Britain, a solar race team that will race at next year’s World Solar Challenge race across Australia. The team’s engineers calculate that solar cells mounted on the roof of a car based in London would generate enough energy each year to power nearly 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of emission-free driving.

Steven Heape, head of Solar Team Great Britain said:People think the UK and Europe have the wrong climate for solar – this is a 24-hour endurance race and if it can be done for this event, then solar should absolutely be part of the way we cut emissions from vehicles.

Analysis:
Figures would vary significantly by car, with weight and aerodynamics being key deciding factors. Using the Renault Zoe, a small 5-seat all-electric city car that has a practical summer range of 106 miles, a battery size of 22 kWh (pdf) and approximate roof area of 1150 x 1600 mm (1.8m2).

Filling this roof area with standard silicon solar cells (218.88Wp per M2 with an efficiency of 22.4%) the total annual power production for a car in London would be 300 kWh (approx) which would deliver an increased range of 1,445 miles.

This equates to over 13 charge cycles, and would provide a fifth (18%) of the 7,900 average UK car’s annual mileage.

Materials advances could triple this
Figures are based on roof top solar only and capacity would increase by extending to the bonnet or altering the design to increase the overall roof area.

Climate also makes a significant difference. Irradiance levels in Monaco would increase the solar panel output (and hence the available range on solar) by 31%.

Cars in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge are significantly exceeding these numbers through innovative power delivery and construction techniques, typically covering over 500 kilometres per day under solar power.

But advances in solar technologies could potentially almost triple this range. With scientists at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, publishing work last year that could lead to graphene based solar cells with efficiencies up to 60%.

UK’s first collaborative World Solar Challenge team launches. Seeks 1st British win on event’s 30th anniversary.

– Solar Team Great Britain to compete in 2017 running of 3,022km race for solar vehicles
– Expertise from Airbus, HEFCE, IMechE, Qinetiq, Bath / Bristol Universities
– Team also announcing corporate sponsorship packages

Today sees the launch of a new British solar-car racing team, which seeks to be the first UK team to win the prestigious Bridgestone World Solar Challenge race across Australia and end the Dutch dominance of of the event.

Solar Team Great Britain is based in the South West and is the inaugural project of the Sustainable Futures Foundation. The team is UK wide project, and draws on an impressive array of expertise from across the UK – with team members from organisations including Bristol University, Bath University, Airbus, HEFCE, IMechE and Qinetiq.

Solar Team Great Britain's core team of engineers and experts

The team’s R&D process is underway, and today also sees the launch of its corporate sponsorship drive, seeking to raise £500,000 from British firms. A crowdfunding drive will also be announced later this year.

The prestigious biennial race for solar cars sees teams compete over 3,022 km from Darwin, on Australia’s north coast, to Adelaide, on its south.

Race route – Image credit: Hideki Kimura

Solar Team Great Britain will race in the Cruiser (family car) Class. This category was launched in 2013, to help drive innovation of practical solar vehicles.

It has been won on both runnings by the Eindhoven University of Technology – with an average 2015 speed of 76.73 km/h (47.68 mph).

Dutch teams have also dominated the Challenger (single seater) class since the turn of the century, with Delft University winning 6 of the last 8 races.

The UK has never won the event.

Quotes
Steven Heape, founder and team manager says: “With many of the world’s leading racing teams, car manufacturers and supporting-technology companies either headquartered in the UK or having significant R&D operations, Britain now has some of the world’s best engineer talent.

By creating a British, rather than a British-university team, we are able to work with this talent regardless of where they are based. With the 2017 regulations newly announced, we are now looking to collaborate with these companies and universities as well as starting our sponsorship drive.

Key stages:
5th June 2016 – Bridgestone World Solar Challenge announce 2017 regulations document
October 2016 – reconnaissance trip to analyse the route
January 2017 – design complete and production commences
31 March 2017 – closing date for entries
April 2017 – prototype ready for testing
July 2017 – car shipped to Australia
8th October 2017 – race begins, with the winning cars expected on the 12th October

–Ends–

Image library

All images in this release are free to use for press use provided an image credit is given as per the below. Each of the below links to a higher-resolution version for use in both print and online.

 
   

Image description / credit

Image 1: The Solar Team Great Britain, taken in Millenium Square Bristol. Team founder / Manager Steven Heape is third from left – image credit STGB
Image 2: Route map – image credit: Hideki Kimura
Image 3 / 4 : 2015 Cruiser class winner from Eindhoven University of Technology – image credit: Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2015 & Bart Van Overbeeke for Eindoven photos.
Image 5: 2015 Challenger class winner from Delft University of Technology racing across the Australian outback – image credit: Bridgestone World Solar Challenge
Image 6: Aerodynamics expert John Woodcock at a Solar Team Great Britain design meeting – image credit: STGB
Image 7: Solar Team Great Britain logo – image credit: STGB