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As defending champions looking for a fourth successive victory in the 2007 World Solar Challenge, the team of 11 students from the Delft University of Technology turned to DSM Composite Resins as materials sponsor.
DSM has provided materials, support and advice in the design and production of a vehicle that could endure the temperature extremes of the trans-Australian race – powered only by energy from the sun.
Weighing in at barely 200 kilograms, Nuna4 utilizes cutting edge aerospace and Formula1 technology in producing a car that is stronger, lighter and safer than its predecessors. For this year’s race, entry criteria were made stricter to ensure that the vehicles were not only safer but also more recognizable as cars, with roll bars, upright seating and a maximum surface area of 6 m² for solar cells. DSM met the Delft Nuon Solar Team’s advanced composite needs with turane resin technology. Turane stands for thermosetting urethanes and is a new family of thermoset materials. According to DSM, Turane resins have the structural performance of epoxy resins but with faster processing characteristics.
Vacuum infusion was used to produce the two halves of the body shell and wheel casings, with turane resins impregnating a reinforcement pack that incorporated woven carbon fibre. The cure chemistry of turane resins gives a variable cure profile that makes it suitable for fully controllable vacuum resin infusion.
The ninth Panasonic World Solar Challenge will begin on 21 October 2007 in subtropical Darwin in northern Australia and is scheduled to finish on or around 26 October in Adelaide. The World Solar Challenge is held every two years with around 40 entrants from teams representing more than 30 countries, racing down the trans-continental Stuart Highway and reaching speeds in excess of 100kmph. Taking it in shifts to drive Nuna4, the Delft Nuon Solar Team will be competing under extreme weather conditions, having to negotiate between other road traffic and the odd kangaroo. Competition gets tougher every time and the vehicles get more sophisticated. Nevertheless, the Nuon team, with all the expertise and technology that has gone into their challenge, are confident of a fourth successive victory.
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