Through Australia entirely on solar power

​A car that will drive 3,000 km, using the sun as its only energy source. That is what 18 students have been working on this past academic year. The car is now ready to be tested in a competition where they will drive across Australia. 
The project Chalmers Solar Team consists of students from most of Chalmers' educational programmes, who together have built a completely solar-powered car. The finished car will participate in the world's largest solar car competition, the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia.

"We were inspired by other universities in Sweden that have participated in the competition and we wanted to explore the possibilities of transporting a person, with purely the sun as energy source," says Olle Andersson, Mechanical Engineering student and Project Manager of Chalmers Solar Team.

The project is not part of a course at the University – the students started the project in their spare time, to gain new knowledge and to develop even more as engineers together.

Crossing the continent in under a week

The competition in Australia runs from Darwin to Adelaide and the participants are students from over 30 countries. Chalmers is participating for the first time. The contestants can choose between three different classes, and the students from Chalmers are aiming to be the fastest car. The teams have a week to cross the finish line in Adelaide.

All teams will drive for eight hours a day, from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon, sleeping in tents beside the road. In addition to the solar car, there will be escort vehicles, where the other project members will be making sure everything is running smoothly. Josefin Svensson, a Mechatronic Engineering student at Chalmers, is one of three people who will drive the solar car during the competition.

“Each driver will drive four hours at a time, then we switch. The space in the car is very small and in addition we have to wear helmets. So it requires a lot of practice, to prepare for both the small space in the car, and the incredible heat of Australia,” she says.

The project kicked off with a scholarship

The student project was one of six projects that received the sustainability scholarship Tänk Om in 2018, by Göteborg Energi. The scholarship is awarded to projects with innovative ideas for a more sustainable everyday life. Chalmers Solar Team received the scholarship to inspire sustainable technology development in the automotive industry.

“It is an industry that often develops quite slowly and currently we are using very old forms of fuel. It feels great to contribute to something this ground-breaking, that dares to think differently” says Gustaf Blomgren, a Computer Engineering student and part of the project's programming group.

The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge takes place October 13-20, 2019.

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Text: Sophia Kristensson
Film: Johan Bodell

Published: Thu 27 Jun 2019. Modified: Wed 10 Jul 2019