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Composite Solar Car Speeds through Scandanavia

  • Monday, 23rd August 2004
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Nuna 2, the world’s fastest solar-powered car, is being driven through Sweden and Norway during August.

Nuna 2 begins its journey on 14 August in Oslo and completes it on 21 August in Kiruna as part of the latest leg of its tour around the world.

Nuna II is the fastest solar-powered car on Earth, with top speeds of 170 km/h, thanks to leading-edge technologies from Europe’s space programmes.

ESA provided through its Technology Transfer Programme, several of the key technologies onboard Nuna: solar cells, batteries, power control system and lightweight carbon-fibre plastics, all developed for European satellite systems.

In particular the high-efficiency solar cells were novel technologies first flown on the SMART-1 satellite, built by the Swedish Space Corporation as the prime contractor. The use of these cells and the other space technologies on a solar powered car has proved to be an excellent demonstration of the potential of space technology in sustainable transportation.

Nuna 2 is designed to use minimum energy but also to collect as much solar energy as possible. The 3 wheeled vehicle has a body that is aerodynamically shaped and made from carbon fibre and aramid with the sole intention of making the vehicle as light as possible in order to generate more speed. The car weighs just 300kg with maximum engine power of 6000W and with a top speed 170Kph.

The Dutch authorities have given her a special license plate, making it possible for Nuna 2 to join the regular traffic on the public roads, so long as two other cars escort her.

Mark Olsthoorn of the Nuna 2 team told NetComposites that the choice of using carbon fibre was based entirely on its lightweight and high strength properties compared to alternative materials on offer.

The body face was made of two layers of pre-preg carbon fibre using a plain weave technique, with the core being constructed out of a pvc foam. Airborne products in the Netherlands were responsible for moulding the materials working closely to the design presented to the manufacturers by the Nuna 2 team.

“Space research and space technology have driven technical development forward in several areas, and the knowledge can be re-used in new contexts on Earth. Nuna 2 is a project that can illustrate and serve as an inspiration for new applications of space technology,” says Johan Marcopoulos, Information Officer, Swedish National Space Board (SNSB).

By travelling 3010 km in 31 hours and five minutes, Nuna 2 won the World Solar Challenge in Australia in October 2003. The car was built and driven by students from Delft University in The Netherlands. Students from the Civil Engineering Programme in Space Technology in Kiruna, one of many space programmes in Sweden, are also participating.

So far, the trip from Linköping to Stockholm went smoothly, despite one small skid on the slippery highway.


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