Together with Julian Biesheuvel and Coen Hartjes, Lars van der Aa was given the honourable task of designing the solar car’s appearance. Out of a range of concepts, they chose the most aerodynamic car. Thanks to this design the solar car sports three fairings. Many people wonder how this came to be and why we opted for this. Lars van der Aa explains.
Choosing a design together
‘Just before the design phase, Coen Julian and I started drawing concept cars. We made a lot of choices doing this. The three of us naturally wanted to make the car as aerodynamic as possible but we also had to keep other things in mind such as the electrical engineering team’s solar panel placement, the mechanical team’s wheel suspension, the structural team’s car stiffness and the driver’s place – this placement is very important to the mechanical and structural team as it mainly determines the mass distribution and the forces in the car. We finally made a simulation of every concept car in SolidWorks and ANSYS to find out which concepts had the best aerodynamic shell. We presented these models to the other sub teams of the technical team to discuss the advantages and disadvantages. Together with the technical team, we eventually chose a design that we all feel will be the best.’
Why three fairings?
So what exactly is the idea behind having two fairings on one side? ‘When you have two fairings instead of one long one, you can make the fairings smaller,’ says Lars. ‘Smaller and shorter fairings mean a reduction in frontal area and in the area of the boundary layer. That’s a big aerodynamic positive, because the fairings are not “in the way” of the airflow as much. Because we built an asymmetric car, the driver sits in the fairing on the other side. That fairing is consequently wider and less aerodynamic. On the other hand, the single driver-side fairing avoids a problem with having one fairing behind the other, which is that vortices coming off the first fairing collide with the second, increasing drag. To avoid this as much as possible on the non-driver side, we spent many late-night hours fine-tuning the design.’
Smiling from ear to ear, Lars continues: ‘It was so cool to design the car! We are the only team that has a car with three fairings as far as we know. Both designs have their pros and cons. Only the race can prove which is better: two or three fairings. It is definitely going to be exciting!’ Do you also want to know how Solar Team Twente will perform during the race?! Find out by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and of course our website!