DSM Assist the Nuon Solar Team to Prepare for the World Solar Challenge

09 July 2013

DSM has provided the resins and application technology used in building the solar car, Nuna7, which will compete in the 12th World Solar Challenge in October.

The race will cover 3000km through the Australian outback, from Darwin to Adelaide.

The 2013 edition of the solar race will bring new challenges, as for driver safety reasons new race regulations require significant changes in car design. These include the addition of a fourth wheel for improving stability and a larger driver’s canopy, requiring a full remodel of the vehicle and a complete change of the construction. In the World Solar Challenge the cars must drive the 3000 km in the shortest time possible by using available energy as efficiently as possible. This means that obtaining superior aerodynamics and low vehicle weight have to go hand in hand with the use of efficient solar cells and reliable electrical systems.

Temperatures in the Australian outback can reach significantly high levels, and will be a challenge both for the driver and the car itself. Consequently, the Nuna7 car needs to have great dimensional stability at elevated temperatures. Meanwhile, the construction must be built in a smart way to have the best balance between weight and performance, while providing the driver an optimum safety protection for the unlikely event of a crash.

In the past 6 months, the Nuon Solar Team from TU Delft and innovation partner DSM set out to develop and construct the best Nuna ever with the new design requirements as starting point. The Nuna7 was manufactured by using innovative and sustainable styrene-free Daron resins of DSM, optimised for use with the newest TeXtreme Carbon fibre in a vacuum bagging process. DSM claim the result is a superb vehicle that combines light-weight, great aerodynamics, and dimensional stability at elevated temperatures.

In addition, several important components of the lighting and power systems were made using DSM Somos stereolithography materials for rapid prototyping technology. These components have perfectly been integrated in the car surface, contributing to optimal aerodynamics. DSM has also provided the TU Delft team with prototyping expertise, improving efficiency during the design and construction phases.

The use of DSM’s styrene-free Daron resins in combination with TeXtreme Ultra High Modulus carbon fibres in a vacuum bagging process has resulted in a 30% increase in composite material rigidity in comparison to the Nuna6. For this, the novel resin composition, excellent adhesion between resin and carbon fibre, and the elevated temperature resistance of the composite structure were instrumental.

This increase in composite material rigidity enabled making a 3 times stiffer vehicle design required for compensating the additional torsion resulting from the extra fourth wheel. This is instrumental for obtaining the right aerodynamic design and minimized weight. Also this will result in fewer vibrations, allowing the car to reach higher speeds and be more energy efficient.

The resin-fibre combination used in the Nuna7 make the construction stronger compared to earlier versions. This is important for protecting the bottom of the car from rocks and debris, for car reliability and driver safety. The rigidity of the innovative material provided by DSM allowed the design of the Nuna7 to be optimized for the new design requirements. This means reducing weight while improving the car’s performance.

The 12th World Solar Challenge will take place between 6 and 13 October 2013.

Photo provided by DSM.

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