While the NUNA 12 is being treated with the Ceramic Guard coating before the race in Australia, we speak to Ben and Jort. About their preparation for the World Solar Challenge, the Brunel Solar Race team and how the Ceramic Guard helps them achieve their goals. In this interview, you will learn all about the Brunel Solar Team and their ingenious solar car, the NUNA 12, and how Ceramic Guard supports them on their road to success.
Source: Brunel Solar Team
Who are you and what is your function on the Brunel Solar Team?
Ben, who studied aeronautical engineering in Delft, kicks off: “I’m Ben, structural engineer with the Brunel Solar Team. Right now we are in the process of turning it into a race crew and I will be the driver of our beautiful solar car, NUNA 12.” The NUNA 12 will compete for the victory at the World Solar Challenge in Australia this October.
Besides Ben, we spoke to Jort. He was part of the team that designed the exterior of the car.
“I’m Jort and I previously studied Aerospace Engineering. I was part of the aerodynamics department, which means I designed the aerodynamic shape of the car, i.e. the exterior.” During the race, Jort drives the front escort vehicle, the reconnaissance car. That car navigates the NUNA 12 through traffic, as it is racing on public roads. “So we have to make sure it drives well on the track and that it does so safely.”
Tell us about the World Solar Challenge and the Brunel Solar Team?
Ben: “We are a team of 18 students building a single-seater solar car to compete in the Bridgestone Solar Challenge, a challenging 3,000-kilometre race in Australia from Darwin to Adelaide. Our main goal is to inspire the world to become more sustainable and to excite children about engineering subjects. We have already achieved this goal, as I myself got inspired as a child and now I am standing here.”
In the past, TU-Delft’s team won seven times in Australia and four times in South Africa, making the team a record holder.
Source: Brunel Solar Team
How did Brunel Solar Team come about?
Ben takes us down memory lane: “In 1999, a group of students from Delft University of Technology formed a team and approached Wubbo Ockels, the first Dutch astronaut and then professor at TU Delft. They wanted to participate in the Solar Challenge and received support from both the university and Wubbo Ockels himself. Together, they gathered a team and built a car. To everyone’s surprise, they won on their first participation, which confirmed Wubbo Ockels’ words: ‘If we participate, you have to win.’ This result was the result of intense effort and dedication.”
What are the goals of the Brunel Solar Team?
Ben: “We demonstrate the power of efficient solar energy by driving entirely on sunlight. Our success in driving 3000 km on pure solar energy has already made an impact, including at companies like Lightyear from Eindhoven, and is contributing to the growth of electric cars in general. In addition, we aim to get children excited about engineering subjects.”
What is your motivation for becoming part of the team?
For Ben, his dream is coming true: “As a child, I saw the team competing in the Solar Challenge on the news. I used to read about them in the technical magazines my mother got. That inspired me to check out this team. Eventually when I went to college and I received the application for NUNA 12 in my mailbox, I got super excited and wanted to join. Because when do you get the chance to work in a small team on something as cool as a solar car?”
Jort has also known about the Solar World Challenge from a young age.“I wanted to apply the theory knowledge I learnt during my bachelor in real life. I already knew this team pretty well. I had heard about it when I was in primary school and when I saw these students in the race, I thought it was super cool. The team pushes the boundaries of electrical engineering and aerodynamics and other disciplines. Along with that the race would take place in Australia were definitely the reasons to sign up to the team.”
About NUNA 12. What is ingenious about this solar car?
Jort enthusiastically begins to tell: “What makes the NUNA 12 so innovative are some crucial features. We have applied advanced solar cells and a new battery technology, allowing us to start the race with more energy. In this race, it is essential to realise that you have to start the race with a full battery, which cannot be recharged via mains power during the race. A larger battery capacity allows us to store more energy at the start and therefore ride faster.”
Several standard shapes of solar cars were placed in the wind tunnel to determine which model performed optimally under various conditions.“Specific to the NUNA 12 is the shorter hood, the cockpit on top where the driver sits. This not only reduces aerodynamic drag but also minimises the shadow on the solar panel. By making the hood shorter, we reduce drag and increase energy gain. Besides, we made the car longer and thinner, which further minimises drag.“ Jort explains.
What made you decide to apply the Cartec Ceramic Guard coating to the NUNA 12?
Ben: “We use the Ceramic Guard for several reasons. In particular, preventing dirt, such as dust and dead insects, on our car is crucial for optimal performance. We aim for smooth airflow around the car, as turbulence affects efficiency. Even a small dead insect can disrupt the airflow and cause extra aerodynamic drag. Therefore, it is important to prevent dirt from sticking to the car, and the Ceramic Guard helps with this.”
Jort: “A notable feature of this coating is its smoothness, which allows dirt to be easily removed. This even appears to affect our car’s speed and performance.”
How will Cartec help you achieve your goals?
Jort: “Ceramic Guard reduces dirt pickup and improves aerodynamics by reducing aerodynamic drag. We use Ceramic Wash and Ceramic Glaze to keep our car clean every day in the dusty outback. This is crucial to prevent paint damage and ensure a shiny start every day. The Cartec Ceramic Glaze also improves driver visibility in the small cockpit. This is essential for safety and clear vision on the road.”
Cartec has a number of core values. What do these mean for the Brunel Solar Team?
Ben: “Cartec shares the same core values as our team. We strive for a high-quality, high-performance, reliable and fast car, and I believe Cartec contributes significantly to this goal. Not only with their products, but also through the overall company culture and mentality.”
After the Ceramic Guard is completely applied, we leave a few more products and tips and wish the men victory.
Follow the Brunel Solar Team: https://www.instagram.com/brunel_solarteam/?hl=nl