Photo by Marlen Braun
Team 2021 faced many challenges on their way towards a race in 2021. Seven months have passed already in which the team focused on creating the most efficient solar car possible. Now the design phase is over and the shape of the car is finalised. Before we reveal the design to you on the 12th of March, we will dive into how the different technical sub-teams experience this phase and what challenges they faced and what challenges are ahead. This week it is the structural sub-team.
What is the structural sub-team doing?
This sub-team is all about the carbon structure of the car. If you spot our solar car driving by, you can see the outer structure that is painted red and white. However, there is also an inner structure that becomes visible once the solar panel is opened. Next to designing, the structural team also plans a lot for the production phase where they put their practical knowledge to a test. “I applied for Solar Team Twente because I truly wanted to be part of this motivated and passionate team. The choice to become a structural engineer was only logical because I already worked on the structural part at Solar Boat Twente, another student team from Twente” Stijn Louws explains.
How did you experience the beginning of the project?
“We deepened our theoretical knowledge and practised many hours in the simulation software Ansys in the beginning. As we did not learn a lot about carbon during our studies, we had to catch up” Stijn explains. Like the other sub-teams, the structural engineers are in close contact with the other sub-teams. “Thomas and I studied Mechanical Engineering at the Saxion University of Applied Sciences and the University of Twente. That comes in handy because we have many interfaces with the mechanics sub-team”. Next to that, they also worked closely with the aerodynamics sub-team. “After all, the shape they have designed also needs to work in real-life”.
What do you do besides simulating and researching?
After the design phase, Solar Team Twente transitions into the production phase. This has to be prepared well, for example, by buying the required materials and shaping the foam with which the new solar car will be built. “To organise the materials and the facilities to build the solar car, we have a lot of contact with partners as a technical sub-team”.
What happens now that the Design Phase is finished?
Solar Team Twente has quite a lot of big Dutch partners and two of them are especially relevant for building the structure of the new solar car. Now that the design phase has ended, the structural engineers are splitting up: On the one hand Stijn will work on the mould of the car at Stork. The mould is used to produce the exterior of the car which was designed by the aerodynamics engineers. This outer structure is mainly important for the aerodynamics because it has to follow the aerodynamic shape as developed in the design phase. Thomas on the other hand will work on the inner structure at NLR. This is relevant for the stiffness of the car and makes it strong. “We have already seen our car on the computer screen so every step towards an actual physical car is extremely exciting”. The final car will be revealed this summer, but you can already get a glimpse during the Design Reveal on the 12th of March at 12:00 on the Solar Team Twente YouTube channel!