European Solar Challenge: the sun at Zolder

The iLumen European Solar Challenge at Circuit Zolder in Belgium is still expected to go ahead on 18–20 September (see my list of teams here).

Above is my calculation of the theoretical solar power for this event, assuming no clouds, ignoring diffuse sky radiation, and taking solar panels as 100% efficient (more realistic values are 20–24% for silicon and 35% for GaAs).

We will see, during the race itself, how much sun there will be (on past trends, during September, the sun at Zolder shines for about 6 hours a day, and there is rain on one day in two).

Emerging solar car teams

Here is a brief list of emerging solar car teams. We wish them all the very best as they plan for their first race, especially in these difficult times. Please notify me in the comments of other new teams aiming at major races.

CO  Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellín (Hydrómetra) 

Challenger – this team has a background in boat racing, but are building a car for iESC.

picture credit (click image to zoom – OLD PIC)

MX  Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México Solar Racing Team (Hyadi) 

Two-seat cruiser (car: Quetzal 2) – this new team from Mexico are planning to build a great-looking Cruiser. They hope to attend the World Solar Challenge.

picture credit (click image to zoom)

PL  PUT Solar Dynamics (Poznań University of Technology) 

Two-seat cruiser – they are making good progress on construction. This (Polish) video describes their project. They had originally hoped to race at WSC 19.

Left: credit / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

SA  Alfaisal Solar Car Team 

Classic symmetric challenger (car: Areej 1) – they originally registered for ASC 2018 and WSC 2019, but withdrew from those events. Their car name is a pun: AREG/Areej is an acronym for Alfaisal Renewable Energy Group but also means “the scent of a flowery garden” in Arabic. Their car appears complete.

Left: credit / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

US  Bradley University 

Challenger – I am not sure of the status of this team.

US  Comet Solar Racing team (UT Dallas) 

Challenger – I am not sure of the status of this team.

US  Grand Valley State 

Symmetric challenger – they appear to have gotten started by being given Poly Montreal’s Esteban 8. Their team number (616) is the telephone area code for Grand Rapids, Michigan.

picture credit (click image to zoom)

US  KU Solar Car 

Monohull challenger (car: Astra) – they are raising funds for construction. The render they have posted shows a monohull design, 1.3 m wide. They completed their battery pack in March. Their team number (785) is the telephone area code for northern Kansas.

picture credit (click image to zoom)

This page last updated 13:33 on 16 May 2020 AEST.

Solar Racing News

I have already commented on the postponement of the American Solar Challenge due to COVID-19. The SASOL Solar Challenge in South Africa has also been postponed (see the current list of teams), as has the Albi Eco race.

The iLumen European Solar Challenge in Belgium is still expected to go ahead as planned, however (see the list of teams for that event).

iLumen European Solar Challenge 2020

For solar-car teams, the iLumen European Solar Challenge (iESC) is open for early-bird registration for the race on September 18–20 this year (with discounts for registrations before 1 Feb). Details on the event blog, and registration info here.

My reports on the 2018 event are report 1, report 2, and report 3.

In praise of duct tape

It’s a common joke that engineers fix everything with duct tape. I’m happy to say that there’s no truth in that whatsoever.*

Photos: Punch Powertrain Solar Team (iLumen European Solar Challenge 2018), Tshwane University of Technology (Sasol Solar Challenge 2018), Solar Energy Racers (Sasol Solar Challenge 2018), Western Sydney University (World Solar Challenge 2015).

*: not everything.

Solar Car World Rankings Revisited

Nuon at WSC 17 (photo: Anthony Dekker)

Below is my personal world ranking of the top 21 Challenger-class solar car teams (revised with new data from an earlier list). It was produced entirely algorithmically by using linear regression on historical data to build mappings between WSC rankings and those of other races, and then applying those mappings to the results of four recent events (WSC 17, ASC 18, ESC 18, and Sasol 18). For example, this is the mapping between Sasol placings and WSC placings. It was used to map all Sasol 18 teams to expected WSC placings:

There is as yet insufficient data to rate Cruiser-class teams (apart from the actual WSC 17 results: 1 Eindhoven, 2 Bochum, 3 Arrow). But here is the table of Challengers:

Rank Previous Team WSC17 ASC18 ESC18 Sasol18
1 1 NL  Nuon Solar Team 1 1
2 ↑ 3 NL  Solar Team Twente 5 1
3 ↓ 2 US  University of Michigan 2 2
4 4 BE  Punch Powertrain Solar Team 3 6
5 5 JP  Tokai University 4 2
6 ↑ DE  Sonnenwagen Aachen P 3
7 ↓ 6 AU  Western Sydney Solar Team 6 1
8 ↑ 18 CH  Solar Energy Racers 3
9 ↓ 8 HU  Kecskemét College GAMF (Megalux) 4
10 ↓ 7 JP  Kogakuin University 7
11 ↓ 9 SE  JU Solar Team 8
12 ↓ 10 US  Stanford Solar Car Project 9
13 ↑ ZA  Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) 4
14 ↓ 11 CL  Antakari Solar Team 10
15 ↓ 13 CA  University of Toronto (Blue Sky) 11
16 ↓ 14 CA  ETS Quebec (Eclipse) 3
17 ↓ 15 JP  Nagoya Institute of Technology 12
18 ↓ 12 ZA  North West University P 5
19 ↑ FR  Eco Solar Breizh 7
20 ↓ 17 CA  Poly Montreal (Esteban) 4
21 ↓ 19 US  Massachusetts Institute of Technology 5

Note that Cruiser teams like Eindhoven, Bochum, and Arrow are excluded from the list. The letter P marks cars that participated in WSC 17, but did not finish, and thus were not ranked at the time. It must also be said that Western Sydney, Eclipse, Esteban, and MIT should probably be ranked higher than they are here – the algorithm is not taking into account the dramatic improvement in ASC teams this year. However, good ESC and Sasol performance has bumped up Aachen, SER, Eco Solar Breizh, and South Africa’s new champion team, TUT.

Michigan at WSC 17 (photo: Anthony Dekker)