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).
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."
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.
Source and top image: Solar Team Great Britain