Naledi’s gearing up to go!

Belinda Bantham -- Fri, 10/06/2017 - 09:21

Naledi’s gearing up to go!

The North-West University’s (NWU’s) solar car, Naledi, is ready to take on the world. With the whole team assembled in Darwin, Australia and with the static scrutineering tests conducted on Wednesday, the team will now undergo dynamic scrutineering tests on Saturday before the first leg kicks off on Sunday.

It is the start of a 3 000 km adventure across the Outback, all the way to Adelaide.

“The car went through several tests to see whether it complies with regulations and we had a very successful day,” says Professor Albert Helberg, team captain, from Darwin. “We don’t have to change the car, which is wonderful news. We only have one small mechanical change to make – the rest of the changes are mostly cosmetic. The team has been working so hard and when we heard this we all immediately relaxed. Although they are very tired at the moment, the team is doing very well.”

Changes include moving some of the hazard lights on their chase and lead vehicles and a small change to one of the circuits in the battery box.

“I’m very excited; we only need to do about half a day’s work to get the car through static scrutineering and then we start with dynamic scrutineering,” says Prof Helberg.

Dynamic scrutineering entails figure-eight’s, slalom courses, emergency stops, as well as a fast lap around the racecourse at Eden Valley in Darwin.

Naledi will travel between 500 and 600 km during the first leg of the race.

Technical innovations

The NWU manufactured a special cooling method for the solar array using 3D-printing technology and computational fluid dynamics in the design process.

• The suspension system for the car had to fit into a very narrow strut and had to have very little play. It was designed by the Faculty of Engineering’s fourth-year students.

• The car has a fitted speed-cruise system which is based on energy usage and not specifically speed, although it can be adjusted to suit that need as well.

• The aerodynamic design of the car was based on the Jonker Sailplane, which gives it a very low drag resistance.   

General specifications

The team targets a constant speed of 80 km/h by generating 8 kw/h throughout the day.

The car has a battery pack that consists of 403 Li-ion cells which weighs just under 20 kg.

• In total, the car weighs 225 kg.

• The car is just short of 5 m in length with a width of 2,2 m.

It has a 4 msolar array.   

Where to follow Naledi’s progress

You can follow Naledi’s progress at: http://engineering.nwu.ac.za/solar-car/bridgestone-world-solar-challenge-2017

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NWUSolarCar

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NWUSolarCar

Naledi and the team in Darwin.