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Race Engine Technology

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Company Profile

Sonnenwagen Solar Car

Last year Team Sonnenwagen Aachen was the winner of the 2022 Italian and European Solar Challenge events with its ‘Photon’ car, which was built in 2021. Prior to that, with earlier cars it contested the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia achieving ‘best newcomer’ status in 2017 and sixth overall in 2019. It is now set to challenge for outright victory in Australia with its new ‘Adelie’, which was unveiled in June. The 2023 World Challenge will be held from October 22 through 29.

Adelie has been created by a 50-member team of students from RWTH Aachen University and Aachen University of Applied Sciences. It represents two year’s work in design, development and manufacturing. The name Adelie comes from the Antarctic penguin species, the form of which inspired the car’s aerodynamically highly efficient external shape.

Adelie is a battery-electric three wheeler that takes its energy purely from a four square meter array of Mono-Si solar cells, which are 25% efficient. There are 567 cells and they take 90% of the car’s surface area. The team says, “the arrangement and placement of the solar cells is optimised for solar radiation and to avoid any shadows caused by the canopy”.

The solar cells feed a battery pack that offers a capacity of more than 6kWh. The direct current from the battery is converted into alternating current for Adelie’s wheel hub motor by the team’s own inverter, which it has been developing since 2018. This is its first solar racecar application.

The full name of the car is Covestro Adelie, recognising that supplier of polymer materials and components. Covestro is the major sponsor and a technical partner of the Aachen team. It notes that Adelie’s outer shell was made from milled SikaBlock polyurethane foam blocks from Sika, a long-standing partner of Covestro and another sponsor of Team Sonnenwagen. The Sikaflex sealants for Adelie’s solar cells are also based on components from Covestro.

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